As I hope you are aware, last November Her Grace Caitanya Rupini devi dasi of Turkmenistan (legal name: Cheper Annaniyazova) was convicted by a Turkmen court of crimes both specified and unspecified and sentenced to 7 years imprisonment in a labor camp in northern Turkmenistan. The selective prosecution of Caitanya Rupini along with the courts refusal to acknowledge exculpatory evidence or reveal the nature of some of the charges against her support the generally held belief that her case is politically motivated: the Turkmen government is not noted for itâs tolerance of religious diversity. It seems that her actual crime, from the governments standpoint, is that she is a Hare Krishna.
The northern areas of Turkmenistan are closed border zones: Anyone wanting to visit needs a special permit that is not easily obtained so it is very difficult even for her family members to visit her. Human Rights organizations have characterized the conditions at the labor camp as being exceptionally miserable.
Since she is a prisoner of conscience we ordinarily we would have initiated a letter writing campaign to petition for her release and would petition other governments and non-government organizations to pressure the Turkmen government on her behalf. Amnesty International, The United Nations Human Rights Council, and The United States State Department are all aware of her case.
However, we have been specifically requested by Caitanya Rupini (through intermediaries) not to engage in such a campaign for the time being. Every year just after Ramadan (around September/October) the President of Turkmenistan, in a display of magnanimity, bestows amnesties on groups of prisoners. There is the hope that Caitanya Rupini will be the recipient of such an amnesty and that her sentence will be reduced accordingly. International pressure on the government would apparently be counter-productive to low-profile efforts being made to secure her inclusion in such an amnesty.
While we wait and pray for her early release there is a very valuable service that we can do for Caitanya Rupini: we can give her our association by writing to her directly. I asked the devotee closest to the situation if we could do this. Here is the affirmative reply:
âDear Hari-kirtana prabhu, .I am glad to inform you that I received the positive answer to your question about sending by devotees their letters directly to Mother Caitanya Rupini by post. BUT ONE BIG REQUEST: If devotees want that Caitanya Rupini will receive their letters then nothing to write about the politician and do not ask any information from her. I think that the devotees’ letters full of love to God will inspire her to do her best in service to her Guru Maharaja. Caitanya Rupini is a very good devotee. She had an opportunity to stay in Kazakhstan and go on her devotional service there, but she voluntary arrived to Turkmenistan. I was very lucky to receive darshan of her Guru Maharaja His Holiness BB Govinda Swami at recent Gaura Purnima festival in Mayapur. When He has known that I was from Turkmenistan His first question was: How is Caitanya Rupini? And then during about of 15 minutes He glorified Caitanya Rupini. What highest level of belief and love to God He has if His disciples in Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan show such heroic acts!? Mother Caitanya Rupini does not know English but she good understands Russian language. Caitanya Rupini and all Turkmen devotees are very grateful to the devotees in New York and around the world for their anxiety and prayers. YOUR SINCERE PRAYERS IS THE REAL HELP AND WEALTHY FOR US. I thank you very much for your clear understanding the situation of devotees in Turkmenistan. Hare Krishna.â
So, I would like to ask all of you to please write a personal letter to Mother Caitanya Rupini that is filled with Krishna katha, your service and realizations, favorite verses and purports, Prabhupada lila, and all things glorifying the Supreme Lord and His devotees that will inspire her to persevere in her difficult service. Please abide by the very important request that your letter asks her nothing about her situation and makes no comment whatsoever about the government of Turkmenistan or the nature of her case. The importance of this cannot be overstated.
PLEASE NOTE: Caitanya Rupini will only be able to read your letter if it is written in Russian (or Turkmen). If you are writing in either English or Spanish and do not know someone who can translate for you, you can get your letter translated into Russian over the internet for $0.05 US per word by sending it via e-mail to Boris at the Petersburg Translation Bureau: firstname.lastname@example.org. I have used this service for several letters and they appear to be able to translate devotional terminology and Sanskrit transliterations. The minimum charge is $3.50.
The fastest method for sending correspondence to Caitanya Rupini is by Telegram to this address:
Turkmenistan Dashoguz ulica Zagorodnaya 1, DZ-K/8 otryad 1 Annaniyazova Cheper
Or you can send your letters to her via postal service at this address:
Zenskaya Kolloniya DZ-K/8
The postage for a standard letter from the United States to Turkmenistan is $0.84. For postage rates from other countries, please consult your local postal service.
For more specific information about her case you can visit www.forum18.org. Click on Search/Archive and type “Cheper Annaniyazova” in the Free Text Search field.
Thank you very much. Hare Krishna.
Your servant, Hari-kirtana dasa