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TURKMENISTAN: Maximum sentence for latest conscientious objector


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This article was published by F18News on: 22 September 2011

TURKMENISTAN: Maximum sentence for latest conscientious objector

By Felix Corley, Forum 18 News Service

Jehovah's Witness Mahmud Hudaybergenov was given the maximum two-year labour camp sentence in early August in Turkmenistan's north-eastern city of Dashoguz for refusing compulsory military service on grounds of religious conscience, local Jehovah's Witnesses told Forum 18 News Service. He was prevented from lodging an appeal. He is the eighth current known imprisoned conscientious objector, while the ninth known religious prisoner of conscience is a Protestant Pastor Ilmurad Nurliev. Another Jehovah's Witness given a one-year labour camp sentence on the same charges in July was freed under amnesty in late August. Meanwhile, one Ashgabad-based observer told Forum 18 the number of Muslims the Turkmen authorities are likely to allow to travel on the haj pilgrimage to Mecca in November is "about 180", out of a quota believed to be 5,000. While one regional state religious affairs official told Forum 18 pilgrims' documentation has been prepared and sent to Ashgabad, no official would give Forum 18 the number. The Saudi Arabian Embassy in Ashgabad told Forum 18 the number of haj visas it is issuing is "secret information".

As President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov signed the decree ordering the next call-up to compulsory military service, Forum 18 News Service has learnt that two further Jehovah's Witnesses have been sentenced this summer for refusing compulsory military service on grounds of conscience, the first known sentences for conscientious objection in 2011. Ashirgeldy Taganov – who is from Turkmenistan's capital Ashgabad [Ashgabat] – was sentenced to one year in a labour camp in July, Jehovah's Witnesses told Forum 18. He was then freed under amnesty in late August. However, a further Jehovah's Witness, Mahmud Hudaybergenov, was given the maximum two-year labour camp sentence in the north-eastern city of Dashoguz [Dashhowuz] in August. Although he is still in Dashoguz, it seems likely he will be transferred to the labour camp in Seydi, where the eight other known religious prisoners of conscience (seven Jehovah's Witness conscientious objectors and one Protestant pastor) are being held.

Read more: http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=1616

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