Proving that a visit with the authorities in the dictatorship of Turkmenistan can have a chilling effect, a young man who came out as gay under a pseudonym in October to bring awareness to the plight of sexual minorities, and then vanished along with his family after recording a farewell video message and being summoned to the police station, has returned and recanted everything.
Radio Free Europe reports: “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.”
The clinic where Garayev works says it no longer employs him. Garayev’s father called RFE and instructed them to inform all the LGBTQ organizations concerned about his son’s fate that he and the family are fine.
Radio Free Europe reported last week: “Garayev worked as a cardiologist at a prestigious clinic in Ashgabat, the Turkmen capital. … [In his interview with RFE], Garayev described the massive pressure he was under from both his family and officials in Turkmenistan, where being gay is punishable by up to 2 years in prison. He said that only members of his family knew about his sexual orientation and even they attempted to convince him to ‘live a lie’ and conceal the truth from everyone.”
After publishing his interview under the name Kamil, he was sought after by Turkmen police, who called in a number of people. Garayev was among them. He has since disappeared.
Said Garayev in his message: “I really did not mean to harm you by my behavior. I am sorry! If I am gone, don’t blame me! Dad, don’t be too nervous, otherwise you will get sick. Mom…don’t worry either. Kovus, keep an eye on them all. Forgive me! Kovus, be careful, keep an eye on everyone. Kyas, be considerate and learn to think a little. Act considerately, be careful! Akja, my little sister, you haven’t seen anything yet, only tears. Forgive me too!… Akjahanjan, I hope you grow up a beautiful, prominent girl. Be a good girl! I guess I won’t see how you grow up. I am sorry! All be happy and honest. Live in a happy family, but now without me. Do not worry. I beg you again, forgive. Sorry! I kiss you all. Farewell!”