His Excellency Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov Presidential Palace Ashgabat Turkmenistan
May 3, 2019
Dear President Berdimuhamedov,
On World Press Freedom Day, we respectfully ask for the immediate release of Turkmen citizen Gaspar Matalaev from prison. Mr. Matalaev’s case has received international outcry, as evidenced by the 97,584 petition signatures collected from citizens around the world calling for his release.
Mr. Matalaev is a concerned citizen of Turkmenistan, who has been monitoring human rights violations during the cotton harvest. His work has helped draw attention to the offences against international and Turkmen laws during cotton production in Turkmenistan. We call upon you to release Mr. Matalaev and to investigate violations that he has uncovered. He was arrested on October 4, 2016 and has reportedly been subjected to torture by electric current to force him to confess to false charges of minor fraud and a bribery attempt.
In 2018, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled Mr. Matalaev’s deprivation of liberty as arbitrary. Further the Working Group notes “the appropriate remedy would be to release Mr. Matalaev immediately and accord him an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations, in accordance with international law.”
Additionally, in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index, Turkmenistan was ranked 180 out of 180 countries, falling below North Korea.  As an act of goodwill, please heed the call of 97,584 people to release Gaspar Matalaev and investigate instances of forced labor in the annual Turkmen cotton harvest. This act will not only demonstrate your humanity, but also improve the global image of Turkmenistan and its commitment to human rights.
The Cotton Campaign
International Labor Rights Forum
International State Crime Initiative
The International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations