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TURKMENISTAN: Now 15 jailed conscientious objectors


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On 10 February, a court in the eastern Lebap Region jailed 20-year-old Jehovah's Witness conscientious objector Nazar Alliyev for one year for refusing compulsory military service. He is the seventh conscientious objector known to have been jailed so far in 2021. All had offered to perform an alternative civilian service, but Turkmenistan does not offer this. Turkmenistan has rejected repeated United Nations calls to introduce such a service.

Courts jailed six Jehovah's Witness conscientious objectors in January, five of them within the space of two days. As all six had already served earlier sentences on the same charges, courts handed all of them a two-year jail term, five of them in a strict-regime labour camp (see below).

The jailing of Alliyev brings to 15 the number of young conscientious objectors to military service known to have been convicted and to be currently serving jail sentences (see full list below).

This new case brings to 31 the number of known convictions and jailings of conscientious objectors since Turkmenistan resumed such jailings in January 2018. All of them are Jehovah's Witnesses.

An increasing number of conscientious objectors to military service are serving second sentences for the same "crime". Nine of the current 15 known conscientious objector prisoners – including all six sentenced in January - are serving second sentences (see below).

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    • Guest Indiana
      By Guest Indiana
      he 23-year-old Jehovah's Witness Muhammetali Saparmyradov was jailed for one year in March for refusing compulsory military service on grounds of conscience. He has joined 11 other jailed conscientious objectors in the labour camp in Seydi. Labour camp officials refused to discuss their prison conditions with Forum 18.
      Another conscientious objector to Turkmenistan's compulsory military service has been jailed. A court in the south-eastern town of Bayramaly sentenced 23-year-old Muhammetali Saparmyradov to one year's imprisonment in March. He has since joined 11 other jailed conscientious objectors in the labour camp in Seydi in eastern Turkmenistan. All are Jehovah's Witnesses.
      Saparmyradov is the second Jehovah's Witness conscientious objector known to have been jailed so far in 2019. Eleven are known to have been jailed in 2018, 10 of whom are still serving their sentences (see below).
      The 12 Jehovah's Witnesses imprisoned for their conscientious objection to military service - all aged between 18 and 25 – are serving one or two year jail terms (see full list below)
      Turkmenistan offers no alternative service for those unable to perform compulsory military service on grounds of conscience. The United Nations and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe have repeatedly called for the government to introduce such an alternative (see below).
      Turkmenistan has ignored 11 United Nations Human Rights Committee Decisions – the most recent published in April - that jailing conscientious objectors violated their rights. It also ignored another Decision published in April that the rights of two Jehovah's Witnesses jailed on fabricated pornography charges were violated (see below).
      Conscientious objector jailed in Bayramaly
      Muhammetali Charygeldiyevich Saparmyradov (born 11 November 1995) is a Jehovah's Witness from Bayramaly in Mary Region, east of the capital Ashgabad. He refused his regular call-up to compulsory military service.
      Prosecutors then brought a case against Saparmyradov under Criminal Code Article 219, Part 1 ("Rejecting call-up to military service"). They handed his case to Bayramaly City Court. At his trial on 19 March, the Judge sentenced him to one year's ordinary regime labour camp, Jehovah's Witnesses told Forum 18.
      As Saparmyradov had not been held in pre-trial detention, he was arrested immediately after the court hearing.
      Saparmyradov and his mother decided not to appeal against his conviction, Jehovah's Witnesses added.
      The authorities then transferred Saparmyradov to serve his sentence at the ordinary regime labour camp in the desert near Seydi, in Lebap Region. (The prison now seems to use the designation LB-E/12, not LB-K/12.) Many other prisoners of conscience jailed to punish them for exercising the right to freedom of religion or belief have been held in the camp, where torture is said to be routine and prisoners are denied their freedom of religion and belief and other rights.
      The address of the Seydi Labour Camp is:
      746222 Lebap velayat
      Seydi
      uchr. LB-E/12
      Turkmenistan
      Saparmyradov was the second conscientious objector known to have been jailed in 2019. The first, Azamatjan Narkulyev, was given a one-year jail term on 7 January.
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