A 24-year-old doctor from Turkmenistan who admitted he was gay and went missing on October 24 after obeying a police summons has reappeared at his home and has recanted his comments.
Kasymberdy Garayev -- whose mother and father and siblings had also disappeared -- on November 6 denied ever having previously contacted RFE/RL about his plight during a video call on a messenger application.
He furthermore said that everything that was reported on him -- he spoke to RFE/RL last month about the problems he faced as a homosexual in his country, where being gay is a crime -- was false.
Garayev said a farewell video message that he sent to RFE/RL in which he apologized to his family for any problems he may have caused them for publicly announcing his homosexuality was recorded for a different purpose.
The recording, he said, was sent to RFE/RL by mistake.
After detailing his tormented life being gay in the conservative country on October 21, Garayev three days later was called into a police station, which is the last time he and his family were heard from.
Gays face prison sentences of up to 2 years in Turkmenistan.
The prestigious clinic in the Turkmen capital, Ashgabat, where Garayev worked told RFE/RL that the trained cardiologist “no longer works here.”
Attempts to find Garayev’s family also failed after discovering that the family was no longer living in their home in Ashgabat and the neighbors didn’t know what had happened to them.
Then on November 6, a man claiming to be Garayev’s father, Maksat Garayev, called RFE/RL asking it to inform all the organizations that were concerned about his son’s fate that he and his family members are doing fine.
Kasymberdy Garayev later told RFE/RL the same evening that he is at home and had never spoken to RFE/RL, adding that everything that was published about him earlier was not true.
The father also said that the reports about his son were wrong. He did not specify what exactly was inaccurate in the reports.
Earlier, on November 6, an Italian Senator Monica Cirinna issued a statement, calling on the Italian government to challenge Turkmenistan’s official delegation, led by President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, which was expected to visit Rome, regarding the disappearance of Garayev.
Several LGBT rights groups have started a campaign to protect Garayev.
Human Rights Watch, on November 1, urged Ashgabat to give detailed information about the whereabouts of Garayev and members of his family.