Citizenship: Turkmen, political asylum in Norway
Residence at time of arrest: Trondheim, Norway
Position when arrested: Unknown
Charges: Illegal crossing of the border into Turkmenistan
Sentence: On June 24, 2008, Mr. Annaniyazov traveled from Norway via Kazakhstan to his native Turkmenistan. Later that day, plain-clothed officers arrested him at his parents’ home in Ashgabat. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison.Biography: Mr. Annaniyazov is a Turkmen political dissident and democracy activist, part of the so-called “Ashgabat Eight.” After organizing a nonviolent anti-government demonstration in Turkmenistan in 1995, he was arrested and sentenced to 15 years in prison. The government released Mr. Annaniyazov five years later as part of an amnesty, and he fled with his family to Norway in 2002, where he obtained political asylum.
Relatives arrested/harassed/detained: In 2008, Annaniyazov’s daughter Jasgul was planning to visit Norway, and had been granted a visa by Norwegian authorities. However, she was stopped at Ashgabat International Airport on September 29, 2008 and told that she would not be allowed to leave the country. In 2013, after she received the letter mentioned above, she had more visits by the police, and decided to keep some distance from her father. Also the family in Norway is concerned with the consequences for the daughter still in Ashgabat.
Current situation: Some information about Annaniyazov was received in 2009, when he was said to have been transferred to a prison commonly referred to as Gorbatiy, or “Hunchback,” due to the low ceilings of the prison building. He managed to smuggle out a written note asking for money for a new set of glasses. The note also said he did not think he would ever see his family again, and included one question: “Who is working to help me?” In April 2013, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee was informed that a small letter had arrived in the hands of Gulgeldy’s daughter in Turkmenistan. It contained questions about his family and asked who was working on his case. This undated letter is the only sign of life from him since the previous letter in 2009.
In April 2013, Turkmenistan was raised in the UN Universal Periodic Review in Geneva. Upon direct questioning from some of the delegations, the Turkmen delegation responded that Annaniyazov was in a prison with good conditions, made use of the medical facilities and had the right to receive parcels. Though this is the only response Turkmenistan has made to any requests, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee is not convinced that this is the truth.