Statement on Turkmenistan:
21 November 2021
On 22 November 2021 European Union (EU) will hold a meeting with the Central Asian foreign ministers in Dushanbe, Tajikistan headed by the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Joseph Borrell. We urge the EU to use this platform and press the Turkmen government to release all political prisoners placed in harshest prison conditions, held incommunicado for years and facing daily torture, starvation, without access to medical help.
Their names are Azat Isakov (activist of TurkmeniaUnite Group — victim of enforced disappearance conducted by Turkmen authorities in cooperation with Russian FSB and police, for practicing his right to freedom of speech on Youtube and publicly criticizing Turkmen authorities), Nurgeldi Halykov(student, who sent a picture of WHO delegation to the Turkmen News), Hursanay Ismatullayeva (doctor who openly spoke about discrimination at work place), Pygamberdi Allaberdiyev (lawyer, arrested for allegedly communicating with leaders of international protest movements against the government), Mansur Mingelov, arrested for documenting cases of torture and ill-treatment of the Baloch community in Turkmenistan, and Murat Ovezov (for reciting a poem about coronvirus on Youtube).
Azat Isakov was abducted in Russia by the Turkmen security services (MNB) with the assistance of Russian FSB and police from his home in Russia on October 20, 2021 at 12:43pm Moscow time. Before vanishing without a trace, he informed his colleague Chemen Ore on Telegram in writing: “Police are here. If they find me, they will take me. I am hiding”. He was not heard from since that day.
After numerous attempts to receive answers from the Russian authorities a short response from Ministry of Interior came that stated that Azat Isakov “flew out” of Domodedovo Airport to Turkmenabat, Turkmenistan on October 22, 2021, less than 2 days after his abduction, leaving all of his belongings and his phone in Russia. Azat had no intention of going to Turkmenistan. His passport was lost along with his bag stolen by thieves many years ago making any voluntarily travel impossible. Additionally, he has applied for asylum through Memorial Human Rights Society and registered with UNHCR.
Another request for additional information regarding details of Azat’s circumstances was filed. Russian Ministry of Interior provided an additional written clarification, in which they are retracting and covering their actions that led to disappearance of Azat. The response states that Azat was arrested by the FSB and police criminal unit for violation of the Immigration Law. The letter from the Ministry emphasizes several times that allegedly “Azat left the Court house on his own and without the police escort”.
On October 21, 2020 Russia and Turkmenistan ratified a mutual Agreement on State Security which simplifies transfer of dissidents in their respective countries.
Since July 2020, the security services of Turkmenistan openly sent out threats to all Tukmen activists, including Azat and Chemen Ore, that Azat Isakov and many others will be drugged, packed in a bag and sent as cargo to Turkmenistan. They openly threatened that FSB will cooperate in the abductions.
Our sources inside the country informed us that this special operation of Azat Isakov’s abduction was being developed since August 2020. Sources also say that Azat is being held without formal registration, incommunicado in the basement of Department of Interior in Turkmenabat, Lebap and is being tortured daily under the guidance of officer Taganov R.R in Room 52 of the 6th Special Police Unit for political prisoners. We also received information that the operatives torturing Azat are forcing him to commit suicide. Azat’s relatives are also not aware of his whereabouts.
“Turkmen authorities must immediately confirm Isakov’s whereabouts and free him. The Biden administration and the European Union, both of which hold annual human rights dialogues with the Turkmen government, should urge the same”,
Chemen Ore, representative of
Freedom for Eurasia and leader
of Turkmenia Unite.