Turkmenistan: The prevalence of political opponents imprisoned as psychiatric patients or homosexuals, and on the use of a device called the "concrete bag" to mistreat political detainees (since 1997)
|Publisher||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Author||Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada|
|Publication Date||1 February 1999|
|Citation / Document Symbol||TMT31173.E|
|Cite as||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Turkmenistan: The prevalence of political opponents imprisoned as psychiatric patients or homosexuals, and on the use of a device called the "concrete bag" to mistreat political detainees (since 1997), 1 February 1999, TMT31173.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aaae2f.html [accessed 21 April 2015]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
The International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) stated in its 1997 and 1998 annual reports that "Turkmenistan was the only former Soviet republic which continued the Soviet practice of confining political opponents to psychiatric institutions without medical grounds for doing so" (1998; 1997). In its 1997 report IHF stated that all political opponents had either left the country, given up their activities to avoid arrest and other forms of "persecution" or "were confined to psychiatric institutions without medical grounds."
No reports of the authorities incarcerating political opponents in psychiatric hospitals without medical grounds since January 1997 could be found among the sources consulted.
However, human rights sources continue to refer to the following three well-known cases of political opponents who have been confined to psychiatric institutions without medical grounds: (1) Valentin Kopsyov, a member of the unregistered opposition Party of the Democratic Development of Turkmenistan, who was institutionalized from early 1994 to late 1996 in Geok-Tepe (IHF 1997; AI 1997); (2) "dissident" Rufina Arabova was confined in Ashgabat from January-July 1996 for protesting about "violations of her employment rights" (AI 1997; IHF 1997); (3) Durdymurad Khodzha-Mukhammed, co-chair of the Party of the Democratic Development in Turkmenistan and editor-in-chief of the opposition paper Ata Vatan, who was confined on either 22 or 23 February 1996 in the Bekrava psychiatric hospital (IHF 1997; ibid. 1998; AI 1997; HRW 1998; Country Reports 1997 30 Jan. 1998) and released in April 1998 (HRW 1998; AI 21 Apr. 1998). Please note that Country Reports 1997 states that Khodzha-Mukhammed was arrested by authorities in 1995 (30 Jan. 1998).
Neither reports of the imprisonment of political opponents as homosexuals nor information on a device called the "cement bag" that is used to mistreat detainees could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.
Amnesty International (AI). 21 April 1998. Public Statement: Turkmenistan: Political Prisoners Released While Opposition Leader Still Under House Arrest. (AI Index EUR 61/03/98). London: Amnesty International.
_____. 1997. Amnesty International Report 1997. New York: Amnesty International. [Internet]
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1997. 30 January 1998. United States Department of State. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office.
Human Rights Watch (HRW). 1998. Human Rights Watch World Report 1999. New York: HRW.
International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF). 1998. Annual Report 1998. Vienna: IHF.
_____. 1997. Annual Report 1997. Vienna: IHF.
Additional Sources Consulted
Human Rights Watch World Report 1998. 1997.
ILGA Bulletin [Brussels]. Quarterly. October/November/December 1997-present.
IGLHRC Action Alert [San Francisco]. Monthly. January 1997-present.
Keesing's Record of World Events [Cambridge]. Monthly. January 1997-present.
Resource Centre. "Turkmenistan" country file. January 1997-present.
_____. "Turkmenistan: Amnesty International" country file. January 1997-present.
Transition: Events and Issues in the Former Soviet Union and East-Central and Southeastern Europe [Prague]. Monthly. January 1997-April 1998.
Electronic sources: Internet, IRB Databases.