Free Gaspar Matalaev -

Free Gaspar Matalaev


On October 4, 2016, human rights activist Gaspar Matalaev was arrested in Turkmenistan, Central Asia. He has reportedly been subjected to torture by electric current to force him to confess to false charges of minor fraud. Repeated promises of his release have been broken.1

Gaspar is a prominent human rights activist in the country, where he has been monitoring the state-orchestrated forced labor system in the Turkmenistan cotton fields. His work has helped draw attention to the Turkmen Government’s annual mobilization of tens of thousands of citizens forced to pick cotton under threat of punishment.

Gaspar’s arrest came two days after he published a report on the extensive use of forced labor and child labor in the 2016 cotton harvest and one day after the Minister of National Security was severely reprimanded by the Turkmen President at a State Security Council meeting for not properly repressing activism in the country.2 It is clear Gaspar’s arrest was politically motivated.

This is not the first time the Turkmenistan Government has prosecuted human rights activists on politically motivated charges. This year, the United Nations Human Rights Committee has called on the Turkmen Government to end the harassment, torture and detention of those “seeking to document forced labour in the cotton harvest such as Gaspar Matalaev”.3 It is now up to the international community to speak out and demand action on behalf of the courageous monitors like Gaspar who put themselves at risk to help others.

Please sign our petition to demand the Turkmen Government immediately release Gaspar and allow him to continue his work in safety.


Photo courtesy of Alternative Turkmenistan News:

Campaign updates

10 May: In collaboration with our partners, the Cotton Campaign, we sent a letter to the Turkmen President requesting Gaspar’s immediate release from detention. Read the letter here.

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804 Comments on "Free Gaspar Matalaev"

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We are support you Gaspar


Well done for standing up for what you believe in. We will now stand up for what we believe in and that is to help free you and to get you back to your family.


You are brave for what you do.
Hang in there. I hope it won’t be for much longer.

Arden Epstein

You are a brave soul to fight give so much for justice. Thank you on behalf of those of us who are not so brave.

Mary Anne Byrne

I pray for your release & may God bless you for caring enough to help others & make a difference! Keep your chin up & stay strong!Peace & love!

Christos P

Your actions are an inspiration.
Hoping you are released soon.

lesley lemon

Gaspar, don’t give up. You are not alone. Your cries are being heard and there are people who are wonrking for your release. You are cared about. Be strong.<3

Cinzia Filoni

Stand proud, I hope for your release and I admire you.

Aristea Parissi

Dear Gaspar, you have my sheer admiration and support for doing what you did. People like you make a difference in this world. I’m so sorry you are going through hard times and wish for your immediate release.

Michael Potter

thanks for standing up for human rights, wishing you freedom in the way you want it.

Linda Gregory

Thinking of you with much love and admiration – you inspire me with your strength. Keep the faith. So many are behind you! xxx


Your courage inspires many people – you are helping more people than you realise. May knowing that give you strength and endurance.

Lars Sözüer

Ne rezignu, batalu plu!


it’s the bravest thing standing up for others. You have my deepest admiration, Gaspar Matalaev.

Sabina Carlozzo

I hope God will help you soon.

Helen Turbett

Well done. To be so brave. My Thoughts are with you.

Mark Cambridge

Please don’t give up Gaspar.

Salma Haidrani

Don’t give up Gaspar. Thank you for what you did. Stay strong! Sending love and light

Morin Soazig

We stand with you Gaspar. Thanks for what you did, you are so brave, I immensely admire people like you. I hope you are released very soon. Keep strong.

Katherine Smyth

Thank you Gaspar. Your strength and goodness outshine the weak and greedy, the bullies who are punishing you for merely highlighting the uncomfortable truth.


People all over the World stand by you Gaspar until you are finally released and safe.

Kris Maillet

Don’t give up Gaspar, we are next to you.

Stephanie Kirk

I’m signing in solidarity with Gaspar and in admiration for his bravery and committment to social justice


Thank you that someone took this seriously. This matter is no game and Mr. Matalaev took it vesy seriously thank god We need more people like Mr. Matalaev thank you so much!! You have my respect!!!!!!!

Jon Sjoberg

I stand with you!

Judy Unger

No one should be treated the way Gaspar has just for speaking up for human rights/

Eugenio Gervasini

Keep going Gaspar, we support you


We stand with you Gaspar. Thank you for everything you do.


Greetings from Ireland, Gaspar. Please remain strong and hopeful. Justice cannot be denied for long when the world is on your side.

Theodor Prucha

Dear Gaspar, Neither the LORD nor we have forgotten you. You are in prison for all of us. May it give you strength to know that others pray for you and may the LORD bless. you and keep you.
Shalom, Theo

Linda Barnes

Thank you for your selfless work in bringing attention to the plight of others. We won’t stop fighting for your release – hang in there and soon we’ll be celebrating!

Wojtek Buczynski

Hi Gaspar,

I don’t know to what extent all these messages really matter. What matters is real, sticking-your-neck-out activism, legal actions (even though in regime systems they are bound to fail), diplomatic and political pressures etc. I hope that maybe all the thousands of messages posted by concerned people worldwide will amount to some pressure, because if there’s one thing authoritarian governments are afraid of, it’s strength in numbers. So, dear Turkmen government, we’re here, we’re not forgetting, and we’re not letting go.

Hoping you will be released soon.


Wojtek Buczynski

Rax Green

we’re not giving up on you Gaspar! you’re a very brave and noble person, and if there is justice in the world, you will be released.

Brett Langridge

Hang in there Gaspar! You’ve been badly mistreated, but the world has not forgotten you. You’re a hero!!!

Samai Mujer Medicina

Thank you Gaspar, you are such a brave man! Keep on trusting in the higher powers, you will be released.

Burton Walkup

You are a good man Gaspar. We need people like you and more people than you will ever know appreciate all that you do and all that you stand for. We are here for you and we stand behind you. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being so strong and a voice for those who need your strength. Please keep your head up high and know that we follow each and every report to remain vigilant and updated on your status. Big hugs and big smiles for you Gaspar.

Dee Lozer

Thank you for your selflessness and for putting yourself in danger to shine light on those with no voice and no one else to speak for them. Never forget all that you have done and we hope to protect you now.


Remain strong, you are a hero.

Joan Greeley

Please try not to lose heart as people all around the world know of your plight! I among many are thinking of you.


Angels strengthen you!

L, L, D, G, P, J & J Swinhoe & J Clarkson
L, L, D, G, P, J & J Swinhoe & J Clarkson

Stay strong, we’re all with you xx


No one should be imprisoned or tortured for peacefully standing up for their human rights or those of others. Gaspar you should be free and able to continue your vital work in peace. I am thinking of you and all those who suffer and hope that the end to this travesty of justice comes soon.


Stay strong. Great deal being done on your behalf.

Ben King

May the God who brings freedom, justice and peace through His Son Jesus, be with you in power at this time….

Cynthia Chambers

Free him!

Mark Choi

Hang tough. Justice is coming.

Patricia Rain
Dear Gaspar and family, Your courageous stand for social justice is critically important as modern slavery is far greater than in the past. What didn’t exist in the past was a way for those of us who stand with you, to express our feelings of support, share the knowledge we learn from journalists like you, and educate others about the injustices in our so-called civilized world. Through groups like Freedom United our collective hope is that your voice will not be in vain, that in numbers we can pressure your government to release you, and that your family knows there… Read more »

Power to the people. You are a hero!

Robert Bromley

Dear Gaspar, you did the right thing and are paying a heavy price but hopefully you can stay strong in the knowledge that many people around the world are thinking of you and admire what you have done.

Andrea Espinosa


You are not alone. We´re thousands backing you. My thoughts and prayers are with you. We stand by you and we are pressing to get your freedom back.


Call on the Turkmen Government to free Gaspar Matalaev

23,806 actions to 75k
Read full text

To President Berdimuhamedow,

I call on you to immediately release Mr. Gaspar Matalaev from detention and allow him to continue his work as an independent monitor on the use of forced labor in the annual cotton harvest in Turkmenistan.

Mr. Matalaev was detained by Turkmenistan police on October 4, 2016 and reportedly subjected to torture by electric current to force a confession to charges of ‘fraud’. Though the charges against him are minor, the Turkmen authorities have refused to release Mr. Matalaev, despite allowing others charged with the same offense to go free.

We call on you to release Mr. Matalaev as a matter of urgency and to work with civil society actors like him to end forced labor in your cotton industry.

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Our partner in this campaign:

Cotton Campaign Logo

Cotton Campaign

The Cotton Campaign is a coalition of human rights organizations, trade unions, socially responsible investors and business associations united to end forced labor of children and adults in the cotton industry in Uzbekistan. Since 2007, the Cotton Campaign has advocated with governments, companies and investors to use their leverage to end this continuous and systematic human rights violation. Its advocacy has contributed to key steps towards securing fundamental labor rights for Uzbek and Turkmen citizens.

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