U.S. Lawmakers Urge President Of Turkmenistan To Release

Date 2021/11/21 12:29:00 | Topic: Acts

Country’s Political Prisoners

The Lawmakers Sent A Letter Advocating For The Release Of Civil Rights Activists

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), along with U.S. Representative Tom Malinowski (D-NJ-7), today sent a letter to President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow to urge him to release detained political prisoners, including journalist Nurgeldi Halykov, physician Dr. Khursanai Ismatullaeva, and activist Gulgeldy Annaniyazov.

“We write with interest as Turkmenistan pursues an ambitious agenda under your administration to join international institutions, including the WTO, and highlight its economy to the world. Such welcome efforts to participate further in the global economy will undoubtedly be strengthened by further attention to your country’s human rights record,” the lawmakers wrote.

“This year marks the 30th anniversary of Turkmenistan’s independence, and next year the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with the United States. As our two countries continue to cooperate on shared interests such as trade and Central Asian security – we believe that resolution of these cases would further strengthen our larger relationship,” they concluded.
November 16, 2021

Dear President Berdimuhamedow:

We write with interest as Turkmenistan pursues an ambitious agenda under your administration to join international institutions, including the WTO, and highlight its economy to the world. Such welcome efforts to participate further in the global economy will undoubtedly be strengthened by further attention to your country’s human rights record. For example, Turkmenistan earned significant positive attention as a result of your release of 16 Jehovah’s Witnesses in May of this year, demonstrating respect for human rights and religious freedom. We hope you will show the same humanitarian gesture with several additional cases, perhaps on the occasion of Neutrality Day.

First, we reiterate concerns regarding Gulgeldy Annaniyazov, a noted activist who has now been detained for more than 13 years. Mr. Annaniyazov was arrested in 2008 upon his return from Norway and sentenced to 11 years—a sentence that was extended again in 2019. While we were pleased to learn of Mr. Annaniyazov’s release from prison, he remains in remote and poor conditions, and his full unconditional release seems long overdue.

Second, we understand that freelance journalist Nurgeldi Halykov was detained on concerning fraud charges in September 2020 and sentenced to four years in jail. Mr. Halykov has an established record of contributing to independent publications and his arrest the day after reposting a photo of a visiting delegation of the World Health Organization reinforces the image that people in Turkmenistan do not have freedom of expression. Given his important contributions to independent publications covering the COVID-19 pandemic, we call for his immediate release.

Finally, we bring your attention to the case of Dr. Khursanai Ismatullaeva, a well-regarded physician who was dismissed in 2017 after taking a leave of absence to attend to a personal health issue. Her arrest and conviction, only one day after her case was discussed in the European Parliament, and with the alleged corruption underlying the case against her, presented a negative image of Turkmenistan to the world. We encourage you to show her leniency and grant her immediate release.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Turkmenistan’s independence, and next year the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with the United States. As our two countries continue to cooperate on shared interests such as trade and Central Asian security – we believe that resolution of these cases would further strengthen our larger relationship.

Thank you for your attention to this important issue.



This article comes from TURKMENISTAN HELSINKI FOUNDATION FOR HUMANS RIGHTS
http://www.tmhelsinki.org/en

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