It’s no secret that Turkmenistan, a modern-day hermit khanate with one of the most repressive governments on earth, has an abundance of political prisoners. But until now, few details were known about how enemies of the state spent their time behind bars.
A report, issued September 24 by the watchdog group Crude Accountability, relies not only on eyewitness accounts but also on satellite surveillance to paint a full picture of life in Turkmenistan’s most notorious prison, Ovadan Depe, located about 30 miles northwest of the capital Ashgabat. As one might expect, various forms of torture are a big part of the daily routine.
Ovadan Depe, the report states, “was designed specifically to terminally erode the physical and mental wellbeing of the political prisoners it contains.”
Several sources who spoke to Crude Accountability, all but one on condition of anonymity, said prisoners were confined in total isolation “so that the inmates could not see anything outside of the cell.” Food was minimally nourishing and of poor quality and prisoners’ ability to exercise and speak was severely restricted.
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Justin Burke is editor of EurasiaNet.