Turkmenistan: Opposition Activist At Risk Of Torture
Turkmenia, Unite! movement is an opposition group that actively criticizes the Turkmenistan government through social media. They post videos on their Facebook and YouTube pages where they highlight social problems within the country and call on the president Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov to respond to people’s needs. Turkmenia, Unite! became very vocal after the events in 2020: mass poisoning of Turkmenistani labour migrants in Turkey in March, and hurricane that brought havoc in the Lebat region in April.
Azat Isakov’s parents, wife and children live in Turkmenistan. Since Azat Isakov’s online activism they have reported threats from the Ministry of National Security. On 24 July 2020 Ministry officials seized their phones to investigate Isakov’s whereabouts in Russia. Two days later one of the pro-government YouTube channels declared that they knew Azat Isakov’s Russian address. Soon afterwards Azat Isakov started to receive threats and demands to return to Turkmenistan. Isakov was afraid of persecution and after his documents were stolen he refused to go to the Russian migration services to renew his working status. On 15 September Russian police apprehended Isakov but released him after 2 days in custody. On 20 Oct Azat Isakov disappeared and was reported back in Turkmenistan on 22 Oct.
Activists from Turkmenia, Unite! posted a statement on their YouTube channel where they claim Isakov is being held incommunicado in the 6th branch of the Police Department in Turkmenabat notorious for prosecuting opposition figures and journalist, and using torture practises.