Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, today (20 January) issued the following statement on the death of Tirkish Tyrmyev, former head of Turkmenistan’s border service:
I am shocked by reports from Turkmenistan that Tirkish Tyrmyev died in custody on 13 January, having been imprisoned for many years.
Tyrmyev was one of the most prominent figures on a list kept by human rights activists of 88 detainees in Turkmenistan whose whereabouts are unknown and some of whom have been allowed no contact with the outside world for 15 years. Nine others on the list besides Tyrmyev have died in custody in the past few years; there are indications that torture is used in the prisons.
I call on the Turkmen Government to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of Tirkish Tyrmyev quickly and thoroughly. I equally call on the Turkmen Government to investigate the accusations of torture in prisons and to ensure that all prisoners are treated humanely.
I welcome the assurance given by Turkmen President Berdymukhamedov that international diplomats are to be allowed access to the prisons where the so-called “disappeared” are being held. This assurance must now be put into practice.
Former high-ranking security official Tirkish Tyrmyev, who has died aged 66, was arrested in April 2002 on charges of abuse of power. His relatives, to whom his body has now been returned, last saw him during his trial in May 2002.