14-year-old killed in Turkmenistan for rejecting to lose judo tournament to presidents' relative

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Canan Kevser
18 February 2021, 11:53
Canan Kevser
18 February 2021, 11:53

A 14-year-old boy was killed in Turkmenistan for rejecting to lose the final game of the judo tournament to the president's relative.

Suleiman Tursunbaev was kidnapped immediately after winning a judo competition, which he had been ordered to lose by the tournament's organizers.

The boy was later found severely beaten and unconscious and died in hospital several days afterwards, Radio Free Europe reports.

The Turkmen News opposition online newspaper reported that organizers had ordered the teenager to lose the final to an opponent from a military school, which he refused to do and instead went ahead and won the tournament.

According to the reports, Tursunbaev's coach was also severely beaten after the end of the tournament.

On February 14, Tursunbaev's parents issued a statement on YouTube saying their son was kidnapped by unidentified people in the town of Baherden after winning a judo competition.

The parents appealed to Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov to find and punish their son's killers.

The opposition groups claim that the boy might have been killed by the local officials for refusing to throw the fight.

There was no immediate reaction from the tournament organizers to the accusations.

Opposition groups demand investigation

Turkmen opposition groups abroad have announced protests to demand authorities in Turkmenistan investigate the death of a 14-year-old judoka, who they claim was killed for refusing to throw a fight.

The Democratic Choice of Turkmenistan movement and the Turkmen Coordination Council opposition group announced on YouTube on February 15 that they plan to hold several protests after Suleiman Tursunbaev's death.

Protests and demonstrations to be held

The Democratic Choice of Turkmenistan and the Turkmen Coordination Council will hold an online protest via Zoom on February 16 and will stage single-person pickets on Istanbul's Taksim Square on February 19 demanding a fair investigation into the death.

On February 20, the groups will hold a minute of silence at noon, Ashgabat time, to honour Tursunbaev.

Representatives of the two opposition groups said that they would also hold a rally outside the UN building in New York on February 19.