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Turkmen Dissident Released From Psychiatric Hospital

(RFE/RL) PRAGUE, April 12, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Gurbandurdy Durdykuliev, a Turkmen prisoner of conscience, arrived home today to the western city of Balkanabat after spending two years in a psychiatric institution.

Turkmen authorities incarcerated Durdykuliev in 2004 after he wrote to President Saparmurat Niyazov to request permission to hold a demonstration against government policies. He was released on April 11.

In an interview today with RFE/RL's Turkmen Service, Durdykuliev said he is "worn out" from his ordeal but that he is feeling better now.

Durdykuliev said he was put in the hospital "with the aim of driving me crazy. They kept me detained with lunatics and criminals. Among them were people who had cut off their wives' breasts or killed their wives or children. I was kept with them so I would lose my mind."

Durdykuliev said he was locked up even though a health commission had confirmed he was not mentally ill.

Durdykuliev's release came shortly after 54 members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives last week called on Turkmenistan to free him. They called his imprisonment "unjust" and a violation of Turkmenistan's human rights commitments.

U.S. lawmakers also called on Niyazov's government to stop imprisoning political dissidents in psychiatric hospitals.

RFE/RL Central Asia Report

RFE/RL Central Asia Report

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