Book Launch—Parting Song: Poems from Prison

Batyr Berdyev is a victim of enforced disappearances in Turkmenistan. A former diplomat and then Minister of Foreign Affairs, he was arrested along with dozens of other high-ranking officials in 2002 for allegedly participating in an attempted coup d’état. Berdyev was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Since his arrest in 2002, his family has not seen him, and do not know where is he is or if he is alive at all.

International human rights organizations, lawyers, and doctors are denied access to him, and he cannot receive packages or letters. There has been no official information about Berdyev’s status since 2002, and his voice was last heard by a fellow prison inmate in May or June 2005. According to witnesses, Berdyev was severely beaten and tortured during his arrest and interrogation.

The Open Society Foundations, in collaboration with Crude Accountability and the Prove They Are Alive! campaign, host a conversation about the art and advocacy of Berdyev’s Parting Song: Poems from Prison. Panelists will examine the role of art and the artist in oppressive regimes, particularly as vehicles for contemporary advocacy. Please join us for this unique opportunity to show solidarity for the 112 confirmed disappeared in Turkmenistan.

Light refreshments will be served.


  • Kate Watters is cofounder and executive director of Crude Accountability, a partner in the Prove They Are Alive! Campaign.
  • James Womack, an author and poet, is the translator of Parting Song: Poems from Prison.
  • Alex Johnson (moderator) is the senior policy advisor for Europe and Eurasia at the Open Society Foundations.


Please RSVP to Joshua Russell.

Date: March 7, 2018
Time: 10:0011:30 a.m.
Alex Johnson, Kate Watters, and James Womack