Turkmenistan imprisons another conscientious objector
MARY, Turkmenistan—Suleyman Udayev is 24 years old and one of Jehovah’s Witnesses whose conscience does not allow him to perform military service. Turkmenistan does not have any provision for alternative civilian service. On August 7, 2007, Udayev was sentenced to 18 months in prison. The Mary District Court charged him with evading military service in violation of Article 219 (part 1) of the Criminal Code of Turkmenistan.
Udayev has been living in Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan, along with his family who are also Jehovah’s Witnesses. However, he was summoned to the court in Mary, the family’s permanent place of residence, about 365 km southeast of Ashgabat. Udayev was taken into custody from the courtroom and is being kept in a temporary detention cell. His family members are now trying to visit him.
Last month the Turkmenistan authorities released two conscientious objectors, Nuryagdy Gayyrov and Bayram Ashirgeldyyev, from prison and gave them suspended sentences of one and two years respectively. Another conscientious objector, Aleksandr Zuyev, was not even arrested but was given a two-year suspended sentence. This approach was appreciated by the young men whose conscience did not allow them to perform military service.
The prison sentence for Udayev raises concerns over other young Jehovah’s Witnesses in Turkmenistan who could also face prosecution as conscientious objectors.
Media contact: Ville Pirttikoski
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