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TURKMENISTAN: 16 conscientious objectors freed, Muslim prisoners of conscience remain

All 16 known jailed conscientious objectors were freed under amnesty on 8 May. The 16 – all Jehovah's Witnesses – were serving terms of one to four years. However, no Muslims jailed for exercising freedom of religion or belief are known to have been amnestied. Nor has the regime given any indication that it will heed repeated UN calls to introduce a civilian alternative to compulsory military service, though Jehovah's Witnesses say no new criminal cases against conscientious objectors have been handed to prosecutors. Forum 18 was unable to reach any officials.

TURKMENISTAN: 8 conscientious objectors jailed in 2021, UN special procedures ignored

On 16 March the regime jailed another conscientious objector to military service for two years, the eighth such 2021 jailing. Like six of the other 2021 jailings, 21-year-old Jehovah's Witness Rasul Rozbayev is being punished for the second time on the same charges. The jailings ignore a December 2020 appeal by four UN special procedures. A March 2020 regime report to the UN insisted that defending the country "is the sacred duty of every citizen".

TURKMENISTAN: Police detain, threaten, swear at Muslims

Police detained about ten Muslim men in Farap in January who they believed were following their faith too closely, such as by praying every day. Officers "used swear words and behaved crudely towards those they detained." Police forcibly shaved one man, made him drink alcohol, and fined him with no explanation. About ten more were held for praying in a home. Officials warned school children not to take part in (unspecified) "illegal" religious groups and residents received a similar warning.

TURKMENISTAN: Now 15 jailed conscientious objectors

A court in Lebap Region jailed 20-year-old Jehovah's Witness conscientious objector Nazar Alliyev for one year for refusing compulsory military service. He is the seventh to be jailed in 2021 so far and joins 14 other jailed conscientious objectors (9 of them serving second sentences). "We deeply regret the criminalization of conscientious objection," four UN human rights Special Procedures wrote to the Turkmen government in December 2020, adding that Turkmenistan "must provide meaningful alternative service". The regime has not responded to the UN.

TURKMENISTAN: Five conscientious objectors jailed in two days

Five conscientious objectors to compulsory military service who had already served sentences were jailed again in trials on 18 and 19 January. Courts gave all five two-year terms, four of them in strict-regime labour camp, bringing to six the number jailed so far in 2021. All had offered to perform an alternative civilian service, but Turkmenistan does not offer this. Nine of the 14 known jailed conscientious objectors – all of them Jehovah's Witnesses – are serving second sentences.

TURKMENISTAN: Another second-time jailing, four more imminent?

Conscientious objectors increasingly face second prosecutions for continuing to refuse compulsory military service. On 11 January, a court in Lebap Region sentenced 20-year-old Jehovah's Witness Ruslan Artykmuradov to two years in a strict regime labour camp, his second jailing on the same charges. On 30 December 2020, Danev District Prosecutor's Office informed four other Jehovah's Witnesses they face second prosecutions. All had offered to do an alternative, civilian service.

TURKMENISTAN: Conscientious objector jailed, awaiting second trial

Arrested in December 2020, 20-year-old Jehovah's Witness conscientious objector Ruslan Artykmuradov is awaiting trial in Turkmenabat's Pre-Trial Detention Prison for refusing compulsory military service. He offered to do an alternative civilian service, but Turkmenistan does not offer this, despite repeated United Nations calls. Artykmuradov has already served a one-year jail term on the same charges. If convicted, he will become the 25th conscientious objector known to have been jailed since 2018.

TURKMENISTAN: 24th conscientious objector jailed since 2018

A court in Mary Region jailed 18-year-old Myrat Orazgeldiyev for one year on 3 September, the 24th Jehovah's Witness conscientious objector to military service to be imprisoned since January 2018. Eleven – including Orazgeldiyev – are now jailed, eight of them at the harsh Seydi Labour Camp, where a former prisoner of conscience described conditions as "inhuman". All 24 young men offered to do an alternative civilian service, but none exists.

TURKMENISTAN: Two jailed brothers, two second convictions

The jailing on 6 August for two years each of two brothers from Dashoguz Region – Sanjarbek and Eldor Saburov – brings to four the known number of Jehovah's Witnesses jailed as conscientious objectors in 2020. Six others jailed in 2018 and 2019 are still serving jail terms. Both brothers expressed willingness to do a civilian alternative service, but Turkmenistan – despite repeated United Nations recommendations – has failed to introduce one.

TURKMENISTAN: Raids, fines for religious meetings

Police in Dashoguz raided two Protestant home meetings in February. During one raid, officers threatened to take away the host's grandchildren and have other participants sacked from work. The host was fined nearly a week's average wage. Another home owner in Lebap Region was similarly fined for hosting a Christmas celebration. Officials in Lebap Region banned state employees from attending Friday prayers in mosques.

TURKMENISTAN: Conscientious objector jailed after second conviction

A Dashoguz Region court jailed Jehovah's Witness Vepa Matyakubov for two years on 17 February, his second criminal conviction for refusing military service on grounds of conscience. He had offered to do an alternative civilian service but Turkmenistan does not offer this. He is likely to join nine other jailed conscientious objectors in Seydi labour camp, known for harsh conditions and torture.

TURKMENISTAN: First 2020 conscientious objector jailing

A Dashoguz Region court jailed Jehovah's Witness conscientious objector Kamiljan Ergashov for two years on 13 January, the first such jailing of 2020. He had offered to do an alternative civilian service but Turkmenistan does not offer this. He is likely to join the eight other jailed conscientious objectors in Seydi labour camp, known for harsh conditions and torture.