Latest modern slavery fight updates - FreedomUnited.org

Turkmen activist Gaspar freed today but serves full sentence

  • Published on
    September 6, 2019
  • News Source Image
  • Category:
    Anti-Slavery Activists, Forced Labor
Hero Banner

Today Turkmen labor rights activist Gaspar Matalaev was released from prison. He served his full three-year sentence, handed down on spurious charges, in response to his work to expose the use of forced labor in Turkmenistan’s cotton industry. Gaspar is currently at home, receiving the support of his family.

Gaspar, who independently monitored the use of forced labor during cotton picking, was detained on the night of October 4, 2016, at his home in Turkmenabad. Two days earlier, on October 2, turkmen.news published a photo report of Gaspar outlining his research based on interviews with schoolchildren and professionals including doctors, teachers and public servants forced to pick cotton under the threat of dismissal.

Turkmen.news reports:

At a meeting of the State Security Council, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov [the President of Turkmenistan] announced to the then Minister of National Security Dovrangeldy Bayramov a severe reprimand “for improper performance of official duties, weakening control over the activities of subordinate services”.

That night they came for Gaspar. While in police custody, employees of the Ministry of Homeland Security under torture by electric shock, forced him to sign a confession of fraud and giving a bribe. A month later, a judge of the Turkmenabad city court Gulshirin Sukhanberdyeva sentenced the activist to three years in prison.

During all three years of his imprisonment, international human rights and trade union organizations spoke in support of Gaspar, and more than 100 thousand people around the world signed the petition of the world’s largest non-governmental organization against modern forms of slavery Freedom United.

Freedom United raised his case with the President of Turkmenistan; wrote to Turkmen ambassadors in Germany, France, Belgium, UK and USA ahead of the 2017 Ashgabat Asian Games; handed in the petition and demonstrated outside Turkmenistan’s Embassy in Washington D.C. in May of this year as well as highlighting his plight in international forums.

In May 2017, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention expressed its concern over Gaspar’s detention. The Working Group recommended that the Turkmen authorities release Gaspar and give him the right to compensation. He was also mentioned in Human Rights Watch’s 2018 report, and in the UN Human Rights Committee report of Turkmenistan. However, the authorities ignored all calls to release the activist.

In October 2018 top apparel brands signed a pledge to not source cotton from Turkmenistan until forced labor in the country’s cotton industry, which Gaspar reported on, has been eliminated. This follows the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency’s banning of the importation of Turkmen cotton into the U.S. in May of that year.

Currently, 70 companies – including Adidas, Nike, Levi Strauss & Co, Amazon and H&M – have signed the Turkmen Cotton Pledge, refusing to purchase cotton from Turkmenistan, and 84 investors of these companies with assets of almost $860 billion have signed a statement acknowledging the importance of preventing Turkmen cotton from entering supply chains whilst state-sponsored forced labor remains in place.

In May 2019, the International Labor Rights Forum awarded Gaspar Matalaev and turkmen.news the Labor Rights Defender Award for their work.

Subscribe

Freedom United is interested in hearing from our community and welcomes relevant, informed comments, advice, and insights that advance the conversation around our campaigns and advocacy. We value inclusivity and respect within our community. To be approved, your comments should be civil.

stop icon A few things we do not tolerate: comments that promote discrimination, prejudice, racism, or xenophobia, as well as personal attacks or profanity. We screen submissions in order to create a space where the entire Freedom United community feels safe to express and exchange thoughtful opinions.

Notify of
guest
2 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
B. Murphy
B. Murphy
4 years ago

Gaspar Matalaev : perfect example of how ONE person CAN make a difference -but what a toll he had to pay !!

LILIÁN INÉS FORMOSO
LILIÁN INÉS FORMOSO
4 years ago

Me siento felíz por su liberación!, Gaspar es un luchador valiente, no debemos abandonarlo, necesita mucho apoyo

This week

U.N. rights chief urges end to E.U.'s support for Libyan Coast Guard

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, has called for an urgent review of the European Union's agreement with Libyan authorities to intercept and return migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea. Speaking at the Human Rights Council, Türk highlighted the alarming scale of “trafficking, torture, forced labor, extortion, and starvation” endured by returned migrants and asylum seekers. “It is unconscionable that people in

| Tuesday July 9, 2024

Read more