Washington, D.C.: Today, Freedom Now welcomes the attached letter by 24 Members of the European Parliament to the Turkmen Ambassador in Brussels calling for the release of prisoners of conscience in Turkmenistan.

The letter highlights the continued unannounced detention of Gulgeldy Annaniyazov, Maksat Kakabaev and Murad Ovezov in Turkmenistan. Mr. Annaniyazov is a long-time civic activist who was arrested in 2008 after he returned from abroad to participate in what he hoped would be democratic reforms in the country. After a closed trial, the government sentenced him to 11 years in prison and has since held him incommunicado. Messrs. Kakabaev and Ovezov are popular Turkmen singers who have been detained since 2011. The government sentenced them to seven and five years in prison and has since held them at an unknown location.

In the letter, the Members express concern “that Messrs. Annaniyazov, Kakabaev and Ovezov continue to languish in unannounced detention places, which puts their health and life in jeopardy.” The letter also calls on the Government of Turkmenistan “to release these individuals and other prisoners of conscience on humanitarian grounds or within the framework of expected amnesty in connection with forthcoming National Flag Day on 19 February 2013.”

“We welcome this clear recognition that all prisoners of conscience in Turkmenistan—including Messrs. Annaniyazov, Kakabaev, and Ovezov—must be released,” said Freedom Now attorney Mirakmal Niyazmatov. “The upcoming amnesty provides the government an important opportunity to do the right thing by releasing all of the country’s prisoners of conscience, and we urge it to seize that opportunity”

More information about Messrs. Annaniyazov, Kakabaev, and Ovezov can be found on Freedom Now’s website at www.freedom-now.org/campaigns.