conscientious objectors need our support
War resisters' International, 12 July
conscientious objectors arrested
On 14 June 2007, two Jehovah's Witness
conscientious objectors, Bayram Ashirgeldiev (TKM14925) and Nuryagdy
Gairov (TKM14926) were detained in Turkmenistan, and have been charged
with "evasion of call-up to military service" according to article 219
part 1 of the Criminal Code of Turkmenistan. Both are now believed to be
held in pre-trial detention in the capital of Turkmenistan, Ashgabat.
According to reports received by Amnesty International, they have not
been able to meet with their lawyers, and their family members have not
been able to visit them. Amnesty reports that the men are kept in one
cell with 20-30 other detainees, and that the cell lacks ventilation and
is extremely hot during the day.
According to Amnesty International, Nuryagdy Gairov had already
previously served a prison sentence to punish him for his conscientious
objection to military service. He was detained in December 1999 and
sentenced in January 2000 to a year’s imprisonment (see also
Prisoners for Peace 2000).
Although he was included in a prisoners’ amnesty in April 2000 which
made him eligible for early release, he was not released because he
refused - for religious reasons - to swear an oath of allegiance to the
President, which was required from all prisoners who were included in
this and other prisoners’ amnesties. To punish him for refusing to swear
the oath he was reportedly put in an isolation cell and beaten so
severely that he fell unconscious. He was released in November 2000.
Turkmenistan does not recognise the right to conscientious objection.
Conscientious objectors, mostly members of the Jehovah's Witnesses and
similar religious groups, face several years' imprisonment under
criminal law and often serve their sentences in labour colonies under
harsh conditions. In a lot of cases, release has been denied if the
prisoners refused to swear an oath of allegiance to the president on
grounds of conscience.
War Resisters' International calls for letters of protest to the Turkmen
President of Turkmenistan
Fax: +993 12 355112
War Resisters' International calls for
the immediate release of Bayram Ashirgeldiev, Nuryagdy Gairov, and all
other imprisoned conscientious objectors.
War Resisters' International