TURKMENISTAN: Conscientious objector Begench Shakhmuradov to be tried on 10 September


Amnesty International reports that conscientious objector Begench Shakhmuradov, a Jehovah's Witness, is to be tried for refusing to serve in the army on 10 September 2007. Begench Shakhmuradov was called up for military service in May 2007, and was deemed fit for military service, although he suffers from tuberculosis which he contracted while serving a prison sentence in 2005 for "evasion of call-up for military service" (see co-alert, 18/02/2005). He had been sentenced to one year imprisonment on 10 February 2005.
Following a presidential decree, Begench Shakhmuradov and three other imprisoned conscientious objectors were released on 16 April 2005, allegedly to avoid that Turkmenistan to be classified as a "country of particular concern" under the USA's International Religious Freedom Act.

The new trial is part of a new wave of arrests and prosecutions of conscientious objectors in Turkmenistan (see co-update, September 2007), and gives reason for grave concerns. Many of the conscientious objectors recently (re-)arrested already served prison sentences for the refusal to serve in the military.

Turkmenistan is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The right to conscientious objection is derived from Article 18 of the Covenant, and has recently been clarified by the UN Human Rights Committee, in a decision on two individual complaints from South Korea (see co-update, February 2007). This also applies to Turkmenistan.

War Resisters' International calls for the protest letters to the Turkmen authorities, and Turkmen embassies abroad.
President of Turkmenistan
Apparat Prezidenta
744000 Ashgabat
Fax: +993 12 355112

Rashid Meredov
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Magtymkuli ave., 85
744000 Ashgabat
Email mfatm@online.tm
A protest email can be sent at http://wri-irg.org/co/alerts/20070907a.html.

War Resisters' International calls for the immediate release of Begench Shakhmuradov and all other imprisoned conscientious objectors.

Andreas Speck
War Resisters' International
Archives of co-alert can be found at http://wri-irg.org/news/alerts