Turkmenistan must grant retrial to hunger-striker on brink of death

Mansur Mingelov had collected evidence of police torture before suffering unfair trial 
 
The Turkmenistani authorities must grant a retrial to an unfairly imprisoned human rights activist who has hours to live after a two-week “dry” hunger strike, Amnesty International said today. 
 
Mansur Mingelov, 39, who is imprisoned in Seidi in north-eastern Turkmenistan. has refused all food or drink since 19 May in protest at a 22-year sentence he received in 2012 for alleged drug and child pornography offences after an unfair trial, and prison doctors say he is in a critical condition. 
 
Last week he rejected attempts by his father to make him drink water and accept an intravenous drip, saying that he would either prove his innocence or die with dignity.   
 
Mingelov was arrested in 2012 after recording evidence of police torture from detainees from Turkmenistan’s Baloch ethnic community. The case against him was plagued by numerous procedural violations, including the fabrication of evidence, and Mingelov says he saw the child pornography used to convict him actually being uploaded on to his computer by state security officials. 
 
His conviction was largely based on the testimony of four alleged victims who did not understand the Turkmen language and signed untranslated statements, reportedly under intimidation and threat. No identification parade was conducted or other evidence collected during the investigation, and Mingelov was not even allowed to be represented by a lawyer of his choice throughout the court procedure. 
 
Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Deputy Director Denis Krivosheev said: 
 
“Rather than persecuting Mansour Mingelov, the Turkmenistani authorities must investigate the allegations of torture and other ill-treatment that he has uncovered and bring to justice any police officers found responsible for abuses.
 
“Mansur Mingelov was imprisoned after an unfair trial after daring to expose police human rights violations against an ethnic minority group.
 
“The Turkmenistani authorities can avert his death by abiding by their obligations and granting Mansur Mingelov a fair trial.” 
 

Collecting torture evidence

Mingelov was first arrested in June 2012, a day after his brother Rustam, in connection with alleged drug offences. Both were allegedly beaten by security services during interrogation. After his release 15 days later, Mingelov lodged complaints about his and his still-detained brother’s ill-treatment. Two police officers were subsequently dismissed.
 
This experience prompted Mingelov to collect evidence of the torture of other individuals, most of whom were of Baloch origin living in Mary province, south-east Turkmenistan. These included allegations of law enforcement officers pulling detainees’ scrotums with pliers, using chisels on their bones and subjecting them to electric shocks. Mingelov sent the information to the US Embassy in the capital Ashgabat, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the Turkmenistan Prosecutor General’s Office. 
 
Mansur was re-arrested on 2 August 2012 and on 10 September was convicted and sentenced to 22 years’ imprisonment on what he alleges to be spurious charges of “involving minors in socially inappropriate actions” and the production and distribution of pornography and drugs. 
 
Mingelov’s complaints about his case to the Supreme Court and other authorities in Turkmenistan have all gone unanswered. 
 

View latest press releases