Country report and updates: Turkmenistan

Last revision: 19 May 1998
19 May 1998
19/05/1998

1 Conscription

conscription exists

Turkmenistan decided to create its own armed forces in early 1992. However, their first full-scale military exercises did not occur until October 1995. [2]

military service

Military service lasts for two years - although according to another source the period is 18 months. [4] [6]

postponement and exemption

No information available.

recruitment

No information available.

2 Conscientious objection

The right to conscientious objection is not legally recognized and there are no provisions for substitute service. [5]

There are no known cases of conscripts openly refusing to perform military service.

3 Draft evasion and desertion

penalties

Minister of Defence Kopekov stated in 1992 that legislation was being drafted whereby deserters would face "very severe measures, including criminal responsibility". [3]

No further details about this are known.

practice

Draft evasion is widespread and has increased significantly since Turkmenistan became an independent state. It is caused by the poor conditions and human rights violations within the armed forces. Crime is a serious problem in the armed forces: in 1996 even President Niyazov referred to the problem of arms sales, drug smuggling and even the 'sale' of conscripts in remote garrisons by garrison leaders to local farmers. [2]

Desertion too is widespread. In 1994 there was said to be a 20 percent desertion rate - which would indicate approximately 2,000 soldiers deserted from the armed forces that year. [1]

It is not known how far draft evasion and desertion are actually monitored and punished.

6 Annual statistics

The armed forces are 16,000 to 18,000-strong - that is, about 0.40 percent of the population. [4]

Every year approximately 40,000 men reach conscription age. [4]

Sources

[1] Shishlevskiy, Valentin 1994. 'The Evolution of Turkmenistan's Armed Forces', in: Asian Defence Journal, 7/1994. [2] Kangas, Roger D. 1996. 'With an Eye on Russia, Central Asian Militaries Practice Cooperation', in: Transition, 9 August 1996. [3] Amnesty International 1992. Concerns in Europe November 1991 - April 1992. AI, London. [4] Institute for Strategic Studies 1997. Military Balance 1997/98. ISS, London. [5] Amnesty International 1997. Out of the margins, the right to conscientious objections to military service in Europe. AI, London. [6] UN Commission on Human Rights, 1997. The question of conscientious objection to military service, report of the Secretary-General prepared pursuant to Commission resolution 1995/83. United Nations, Geneva.

Recent stories on conscientious objection: Turkmenistan

06 Nov 2019

In Turkmenistan, appeals of two conscientious objectors against their one-year jail terms for refusing compulsory military service were rejected. Nine conscientious objectors are now jailed, six of them in 2019. The United Nations ruled that Turkmenistan violated the rights of three more conscientious objectors jailed in 2013.

17 Sep 2019

An Ashgabad court jailed 20-year-old Azat Ashirov for two years on 31 July for refusing compulsory military service on grounds of conscience. He had set out his objections in writing and offered to perform an alternative civilian service. Ashirov's jailing brings to seven the number of Jehovah's Witness conscientious objectors known - as of 5 September - to be serving jail terms of between one and four years. Six of them are imprisoned at the Labour Camp at Seydi in the eastern Lebap Region.

14 Jun 2019

The 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.