Prove They Are Alive: Disappeared prisoners in Turkmen prisons | Den norske Helsingforskomité

Prove They Are Alive!

Prove They Are Alive!

NHC joins campaign to demand information about disappeared prisoners in Turkmenistan

New press release from the Prove the are alive campaign: EU must back human rights and the environment along with the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline.

The campaign is aimed at the authorities of Turkmenistan, who are known to imprison political activists in closed trials and not providing information about the whereabouts or conditions.

The Goal of the Campaign Prove They Are Alive! is to uncover the truth about the fate of hundreds of people who have disappeared in Turkmen prisons as the result of massive repression that took place in the 2000s. Uncovering the truth about gross human rights violations by Turkmenistan’s authorities in the past and today will stop additional violations in the future. By raising the question of the fate of those people who have disappeared in Turkmenistan’s prisons on the international level, we begin to pave the way to addressing the systemic human rights violations committed by one of the most opaque and repressive regimes in the world.

The most known group of such political activists have been incommunicado in prison for ten years since an alleged assassination attempt in 2002. – There is reason to believe that several of these individuals have become severely ill or even passed away under harsh conditions in prison, said Lene Wetteland, Central Asia advisor with the NHC. – The relatives are however still kept in the unknown after ten years, and this constitutes an immense pressure and collective punishment on the family members.

Objectives of the Prove They Are Alive! campaign:

1. Understand the fates of all those who have disappeared in Turkmen prisons, and obtain information from the Turkmen authorities about their location, their health and their legal status;

2. Obtain access to the imprisoned for their families, lawyers, doctors and representatives of international organizations;

3. Prevent further disappearances of people in Turkmenistan’s prisons;

4. Help to improve the overall human rights situation in Turkmenistan, including conditions in Turkmenistan’s prisons.

We hope to reach these objectives through cooperation with international organizations and through direct dialogue with the government of Turkmenistan. The resolution of this humanitarian crisis and the disclosure of information about the imprisoned will push the Turkmen authorities to take the first step away from Turkmenistan’s totalitarian past and the legacy of mass repression.

A vast number of people languish in Turkmen prisons. Gulgeldy Annaniyazov is a democracy activist who received political asylum in Norway in 2002 and lived here with his family. He returned to Turkmenistan in 2008 after the death of former dictator Niyazov in the hope that change could now take place. Instead, he was immedeately arrested and sentenced to 11 years in prison, and his family has heard from him only twice – via undated small notes smuggled out from prison. The NHC has advocated his case on several occasions since the arrest, to no avail. In an unexpected incident the Turkmen delegation briefly referred to his case when questioned at the UN UPR hearing in April, but credible information about his health condition and whereabouts is still lacking. – The NHC joins in the campaign with a demand to the Turkmen authorities to prove that Gulgeldy Annaniyazov and other prisoners are alive, said Wetteland at the launch.

The campaign is an initiative from Turkmenistan Working Group of the Civic Solidarity Platform, consisting of 54 NGOs in the OSCE region.

Access the campaign website here.

Read the Manifesto of the Prove they are alive! campaign in English here

Read the Manifesto of the Prove they are alive! campaign in Russian here

See also the NHC’s report on the women’s prison in Northern Turkmenistan, a unique insight to a prison ICRC and other international organisations are banned from inspecting.

Read an article about the campaign on the website