TURKMENISTAN: Conscientious objector Navruz Nasyrlaev sentenced to two years in prison

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War Resisters' International learned in February that Turkmen conscientious objector Navruz Nasyrlaev has been sentenced to two years imprisonment for refusal to serve on 7 December 2009.

Forum 18 News reports: Nasyrlaev, the son of a baptised Jehovah's Witness who has not yet himself been baptised, is from the northern town of Dashoguz. He was called up in March 2009 on reaching the age of 18, Jehovah's Witnesses told Forum 18, but on three occasions refused to serve in the army because of his beliefs. A criminal case was lodged against him and he was tried on 7 December 2009 at Dashoguz City Court. He was sentenced to two years' imprisonment in a general regime labour camp.

With the arrest and sentencing of Navruz Nasyrlaev, in total five conscientious objectors are serving prison sentences in Turkmenistan: Sakhetmurad Annamamedov, Mukhammedmurad Annamamedov, Shadurdi Ushotov, Akmurat Egendurdiev, and Navruz Nasyrlaev. Three more are serving non-custodial sentences - one of which will be completed in the course of this month.

Vladimir Golosenko, who is from the Caspian port city of Turkmenbashi [T├╝rkmenbashy, formerly Krasnovodsk], was sentenced in February 2008 to two years' forced labour. He is not in prison, but 20 percent of his wages go to the state. His sentence is due to end shortly.

Zafar Abdullaev was given a two-year suspended sentence by Dashoguz City Court in April 2009. He is currently living at home. Later that month the same court also handed down a two-year suspended sentence to Dovran Kushmanov. He has to report weekly to the police.

The right to refuse military service is part of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion guaranteed by Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Turkmenistan acceded in 1997. It is also part of Turkmenistan's Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) human dimension commitments.

Turkmenistan's report to the UN Human Rights Committee under the ICCPR, submitted on 11 January, contains just one sentence on alternative service, only to dismiss it (see report CCPR/C/TKM1 at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrc/docs/CCPR.C.TKM.1_ru.doc - in Russian). "The laws of Turkmenistan make no provision for alternative service," the sentence in Paragraph 337 declares bluntly. It gives no explanation or amplification.

War Resisters' International calls for letters of support to the four imprisoned conscientious objectors:
Shaduri Ushotov
Akmurat Egendurdiev
Sakhetmurad Annamamedov
Mukhammedmurad Annamamedov
Navruz Nasyrlaev
Seydi Labour Camp
Turkmenistan
746222 Lebap vilayet
Seydi
uchr. LB-K/12

War Resisters' International calls for the protest letters to the Turkmen authorities, and Turkmen embassies abroad.
Kurbanguly BERDYMUHAMMEDOV
President of Turkmenistan
Apparat Prezidenta
744000 Ashgabat
TURKMENISTAN
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/node/9641.

War Resisters' International calls for the immediate cancellation of the sentences of Navruz Nasyrlaev, Shaduri Ushotov, Akmurat Egendurdiev, Sakhetmurad Annamamedov, Mukhammedmurad Annamamedov and of all other imprisoned conscientious objectors.

Andreas Speck
War Resisters' International