EXTERNAL AI Index: EUR 61/02/97
UA 53/97 Fear for safety / Possible prisoner of conscience 19 February 1997
TURKMENISTANGulgeldy ANNANIYAZOV, aged 36
(_________ __________ in cyrillic)
Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of Gulgeldy Annaniyazov,
who is in the second year of a 15-year prison sentence imposed after he was
involved in an anti-government demonstration on 12 July 1995. Central Asian
human rights monitors allege that he is being held at the maximum security
prison in Ashgabat, the capital, alongside violent criminals, deliberately
to put him at risk of physical assault. There are unsubstantiated allegations
that authorities in Turkmenistan have even incited Gulgeldy Annaniyazov’s
fellow prisoners to harm him.
The authorities in Turkmenistan have never fully disclosed what happened to
those detained in connection with the 1995 demonstration (see UA 173/95, EUR
61/04/95, 14 July 1995), but unofficial sources have stated that in late December
1995 or early January 1996, 27 were convicted of various crimes, mostly involving
hooliganism or drug abuse but some involving more serious offences. Twenty
of these people were released under an amnesty shortly afterwards. Precise
information about the seven people who remained in prison has been scarce.
Gulgeldy Annaniyazov is reported to have been convicted of plotting to commit
murder, assault, incitement to hooliganism, illegal possession of a weapon,
drugs offences, and illegal currency dealing. The basis for the charges is
not known. Amnesty International has received no reports of violence on the
part of the demonstrators.
During the period when there were large numbers of prisoners of conscience
in the Soviet Union, Amnesty International learned of numerous instances when
prisoners of conscience were subjected to physical attack by criminal prisoners,
acting with the connivance or protection of the authorities. The organization
fears that in the case of Gulgeldy Annaniyazov a similar practice has persisted
in Turkmenistan. Gulgeldy Annaniyazov has reportedly made repeated protests
against his conviction, and unofficial sources have alleged that the authorities
have incited his fellow prisoners to violence against him in order to punish
him for this and silence him.
Amnesty International is seeking clarification from the authorities about the
exact basis for the criminal charges against Gulgeldy Annaniyazov. The
organization is currently making appeals in other cases in Turkmenistan where
people have been convicted on apparently false or fabricated charges involving
preparation of violent acts. It has also received frequent allegations that
fabricated charges involving narcotics have been used to punish people for
exercising their right to free expression. Given the circumstances of the
arrest of Gulgeldy Annaniyazov, Amnesty International is concerned that the
charges against him may also be without legitimate foundation, and that he
may be a prisoner of conscience.
Amnesty International is also seeking full disclosure from the authorities
about the fate of people arrested after the 12 July 1995 demonstration.
Since becoming independent in 1991, Turkmenistan has developed a political
climate which stifles fundamental human rights. The government makes no secret
of its disrespect for international human rights norms, arguing that certain