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Elderly man tortured in Turkmen prison for six years following interviews to Radio “Azatlyk”

Prison Fence in Black and White. Barbed Wire Fence Closeup.

Born in 1949 in the village of Sandykaçy, Mary velayat, 73 year old Agajuma Bayramov, spent 6 years in prison, two of which in the Ovan-depe colony, for giving a few  interviews to Radio “Azatlyk” in 2015.

Bayramov started his activism in early the 2000-s when he had sought nomination as a candidate for membership of the Majlis, after which he repeatedly contacted the local authorities. According to him, he was unhappy with the situation where candidates had been chosen by the authorities and as a result, Parliament members only adopted laws proposed by higher-ranking authorities and did nothing to improve the life of residents.

Over the next few years Agajuma Bayramov frequently submitted letters and complaints to local and federal authorities in an attempt to highlight numerous violations of the law and infringements of citizens’ rights. He called for the holding of elections in compliance with the Constitution and Turkmenistan’s laws.

All his communications were ignored by the authorities and so Bayramov started looking for other ways to make known his views and opinions to residents and the Turkmen leaders.

In 2015 he contacted renowned journalist Soltan Achilova, at that time a stringer for Radio “Azatlyk”. He told her that he wanted to discuss political problems in Turkmenistan as well as violations of human rights.

Achilova replied that there were no radio programs devoted to politics at the time and they decided to discuss social problems.

Because Bayramov seldom visited Ashgabat, the journalist managed to record only two or three interviews with him.

In June 2016 Bayramov called Achilova to inform her that he would come to Ashgabat in a few days to meet with her. However, the call he did not keep in touch or respond to her  calls.

In May 2022 Bayramov called Soltan Achilova to tell her that he had been convicted and had served almost six years in prison. As a result of torture, beating and cruel treatment in custody he had become deaf.

Before his arrest, Bayramov lived in the agricultural association of Ýeňiş, Serkhetabat etrap. According to him, the day before his trip to Ashgabat unknown individuals came to his house – a young man and two women. They told him that they had been looking for their relatives but had failed to find them, and they asked him to put them up.  Bayramov lived alone and as there was space for guests, he invited them to stay for the night. During the night one of the women started shouting and calling for help. Afterwards she filed a report to the police that Agajuma Bayramov had allegedly tried to rape her.

Based on this report, the elderly man was convicted. He was never given the court verdict.

Because of his hearing impairment Bayramov failed to provide any further details and answer Soltan Achilova’s questions. The man only added that he was sick and he asked for any help possible.

The Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights and “Chronicles of Turkmenistan” will continue to monitor the situation regarding Agajuma Bayramov.