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Posted by admin on 2021/6/22 13:08:00 (212 reads)

Over the past year, the Turkmenistani government has widened its crackdown on dissent in response to a surge in anti-government criticism on social media and the emergence of an anti-government protest movement abroad. A new briefing paper published by International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) and Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights (TIHR) documents this crackdown and the systematic violations of the freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly seen in the Central Asian country.

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Posted by admin on 2021/2/17 14:17:00 (477 reads)

According to various sources, Suleiman Tursunbaev, born in 2006, who attended sports school No. 33 in the village of Babarap, in Akhal Veleyat, passed away after we was brutally beaten by a group of grown sportsmen. He died on January 27 and was buried on January 28th.

The incident took place after Suleiman won a local judo competition on January 20th. Media sources report that the organizers of the competition demanded of Suleiman’s trainer—ahead of time—that Suleiman should throw the fight and let his opponent win. S. Tursunbaev won, but after the match, the trainer and the boy were brutally beaten. Precisely where and when this occurred is being verified.

The sportsman’s parents, Ziyada Khodzhakova and Matyakub Tursunbaev, who live in the village of Akkal, Kunyaurgen raion, Dashoguz oblast, turned to the authorities and to the public on YouTube for help in restoring justice.

Apparently, Shemshat Orazgeldyev, the deputy director of School No. 33 where Suleiman studied, closed his eyes to numerous complaints by Tursunbaev that his classmates systematically beat him, broke his bed several times, and bullied him in various ways.

The incident took place in Akhal veleyat. The beaten boy was found on the street, half-unconscious, and taken to the nearest hospital. Unfortunately, they refused to treat him there, saying that he did not have Ashgabat registration papers.

Because of the quarantine, movement inside Turkmenistan is limited. Therefore, Suleiman’s relatives had to take him by car, and on January 21, they drove him to Koneurgench raion, Dashoguz oblast, which is 530 kilometers from the capital. He was admitted to the local hospital on January 22. There numerous injuries to his genitals and abdominal organs were noted; his teeth had been knocked out. His relatives were shocked that the doctors did not conduct a complete examination. For example, they did not take x-rays.

According to witnesses, before he died, the boy told his mother that he was beaten by “grown men, pumped-up athletes, because he did not throw the match as they had demanded before the competition. And he did not tell anyone because they threatened to kill his family as well.”

Despite all efforts by the local doctor, Suleiman died on January 27. The death certificate was signed by Dr. Murad Kochmetor of the Koneurgench hospital. The parents believe that their son was not saved because he was not provided with timely medical assistance and vital time was lost.

Today we were informed that a criminal case has been opened into the death of Suleiman Tursunbaev, led by police investigator Ovez Amanov in the city of Geok-Depe. During a phone call, a witness stated, "The case was just opened; I will provide details to the relatives later.”

The announcement of the death of the 14-year-old teenager has caused a storm of indignation among the Turkmen diaspora. In an effort to restrict further dissemination of details of Suleiman’s death, the authorities isolated his family from those who came to the commemoration to share their condolences. In the village of Akkal, near the Tursunbaev’s house, police have set up a post. According to turkmen.news, “Suleiman’s mother, Ziyada Khodzhakova, was taken to Ashgabat. It is unknown who took her; the woman has not yet returned home.”

According to unconfirmed sources, relatives of the Minister of Internal Affairs, Mammetkhan Chakyev, and of the son of the President of Turkmenistan, Serdar Berdymukhamedov, took part in the beating.

In connection with the death of Suleiman Tursunbaev, Turkmen activists in the US are planning a demonstration in front of the United Nations, demanding that Ashgabat “conduct an investigation and explain who was Suleiman’s opponent in the competition, what relationship he has to those who so brutally attacked the teenager, and who is behind this.”

Turkmen Helsinki Fund for Human Rights


Posted by admin on 2021/2/1 12:02:00 (552 reads)

Following the well-known events that occurred in Russia on January 23, Ashgabat is taking preventative measures for the possibility of unrest in Turkmenistan. We have been informed that Ashgabat sent a request to Russia to expel all Turkmens who participated in the demonstrations that took place all over the Russian Federation on January 23, 2021. That it is to say, if there are Turkmen citizens among those who were arrested, the Russian authorities should send them to Turkmenistan, regardless of the law, their human rights, and COVID-19. There is even an airline, “S-7,” which would transport them to Turkmenistan.

According to an inside source, the authorities are afraid that Turkmens who participated in the demonstrations will gain experience with this type of activity, and, upon their return, could pose a threat to the authoritarian Turkmen regime.

Furthermore, it is reported that the more active “returnees” should be labeled “terrorists” and punished severely in order to frighten the population and discourage them from asserting their rights.

We remind our readers that on January 23, 2021 protests were held in over 100 cities in Russia in support of Aleksey Navalny, who was arrested immediately upon his return from Germany, where he underwent medical treatment.

Our compatriots are asking for detailed information about the results of the protests. The Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs stated that in Moscow 4,000 people attended the protests, but Reuters counted 40,000. The number of those detained throughout all of Russia is 3,324; 1,320 in Moscow and 490 in St. Petersburg. There is information that 96 individuals were detained in Novosibirsk, 92 in Voronezh, and 90 in Nizhniy Novgorod, etc.

It is unknown whether any of our compatriots are among them. Regardless, we hope that Russia will not send a single person to the one of the most authoritarian countries in the world—Turkmenistan.

Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights.


Posted by admin on 2021/1/20 10:50:00 (532 reads)

Turkmenistan

In 2020, Turkmenistan experienced cascading social and economic crises as the government recklessly denied and mismanaged the Covid-19 epidemic within the country.

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Posted by admin on 2021/1/7 6:51:00 (570 reads)

Yazgeldy Gundogdyev, Former High Ranking Official and a Victim of Enforced Disappearance in Turkmenistan, Dies in Custody after 18 Years of Incommunicado Detention.

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Posted by admin on 2020/10/22 10:02:00 (880 reads)

Sentence Highlights Politically Motivated Persecution

For Immediate Release

(Berlin, October 22, 2020) – Turkmenistan’s authorities should immediately and unconditionally release a lawyer imprisoned on bogus charges that appear to be in retaliation for his alleged ties with activists abroad, 10 human rights organizations said today. The authorities should quash his conviction.

On September 29, 2020, in a closed trial, a court in Balkanabad sentenced Pygambergeldy Allaberdyev, 48, a lawyer with a government oil and gas production office in the city of Balkanabad, to six years in prison on charges of hooliganism and intentional infliction of moderate bodily harm. Allaberdyev is currently in custody although his precise whereabouts are unknown.

“The trial and charges against Allaberdyev, and the surrounding circumstances, clearly suggest that the case is political,” said Rachel Denber , deputy Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The authorities should release him immediately and annul his conviction.”
The 10 groups are the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, Crude Accountability, the Centre for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights, Democratic Civil Union of Turkmenistan, Freedom Files, Human Rights Watch, the Memorial Human Rights Center, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, the Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, and the Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights.

Allaberdyev’s arrest comes amid growing social tension in Turkmenistan and unprecedented protests among Turkmen living abroad. Turkmenistan has an extremely repressive government. The country is utterly cut off from any independent human rights scrutiny. The authorities tolerate no dissent and subject people it suspects of disloyalty to surveillance, arbitrary arrests, and imprisonment on trumped up charges following unfair trials. Torture and incommunicado detention are a serious concern. Dozens of people remain victims of enforced disappearances.

On September 5, police in Balkanabad arrested Allaberdyev for allegedly getting into a fight with another man. That day, when Allaberdyev and a friend were leaving a grocery store, the man attacked him and tried to provoke a conflict by arguing with Allaberdyev and grabbing him by the collar. The police arrived quickly. The other man accused Allaberdyev of instigating the conflict, and then left. The police arrested Allaberdyev and took him to the police station, where the other man appeared with his arm bandaged. The police told Allaberdyev that he had injured the man’s arm and rejected Allaberdyev’s request to see the medical reports documenting the man’s alleged injury. Allaberdyev denied the allegations. A source close to the case said that officers of the Ministry of National Security from Ashgabat appeared and questioned Allaberdyev about alleged connections with activists involved in the Turkmen protest movement abroad.
Allaberdyev denied these allegations.

The groups expressed serious concern about the lack of due process in Allaberdyev’s detention and trial. On September 5, police interrogated Allaberdyev in the absence of any legal representation. The authorities refused to allow his family to visit and rebuffed their attempts to deliver food and clothing parcels for him. The lawyer Allaberdyev’s family hired was granted access to him only on September 8. The authorities repeatedly rejected the lawyer’s requests for copies of the case materials.

On September 14, Allaberdyev’s wife, Satlykgul Allaberdyeva, following unsuccessful attempts to get any precise and credible official information about her husband’s arrest, requested written information about the official allegations against Allaberdyev and details surrounding his arrest from the Balkan provincial prosecutor’s office.

On September 16, the office referred the request to the head of the Balkanabad city police department. She has received no response. On September 24, a police investigator refused to provide one of Allaberdyev’s relatives any information about the formal charges against Allaberdyev, saying that he “can only share the case documents with the lawyer.” A source close to the case said the relative immediately arranged a phone conversation between Allaberdyev’s lawyer and the investigator. After a brief phone conversation, the lawyer, citing health problems, withdrew from the case.

The family tried unsuccessfully to hire another lawyer. Lawyers they approached refused to take on the case, most likely out of concern for government reprisals. The source said that one lawyer told them that “The case is political and is under the control of Ashgabat. Any lawyer [who takes on the case] may have problems.” The groups also received credible reports that Allaberdyev was under surveillance the week before his arrest. The Turkmen authorities have in the past used fake administrative hooliganism charges to retaliate against perceived critics.

Allaberdyev’s trial on September 29 was closed to his relatives and the public. The witnesses initially invited to testify were never called in to the courtroom. During the trial, Allaberdyev refused the services of a government-appointed lawyer. In light of the total lack of transparency and accountability in Turkmenistan’s criminal justice system, the institution of government- appointed lawyers cannot ensure effective and adequate legal representation, the groups said.

Because Allaberdyev does not have a lawyer and his family is not allowed to speak or visit with him, as well as authorities’ complete refusal to provide them any information on the case, the family has had difficulty getting official information about his case. On October 13, staff of the Balkanabad city court denied a request of Allaberdyev’s wife for a copy of the court ruling. The staff told her that her husband received the court decision and that she has no right to it. Under Turkmen law, only defendants, victims, civil plaintiffs, and their lawyers may receive copies of court rulings.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Turkmenistan is a party, protects the rights of individuals to freedom of opinion, expression, association, and assembly. Turkmenistan is also bound under the ICCPR to respect the right to a fair trial. Turkmenistan”s international partners, in particular the United States, the European Union (EU) and EU member states should press Turkmenistan to free Allaberdyev immediately and quash his baseless conviction, the groups said. They should also press Turkmen authorities to stop harassing people on mere suspicion of connections or interests in the activities of critics abroad, and to refrain from persecuting and intimidating Turkmen citizens at home or abroad in retaliation for their peaceful activism.

“By targeting Allaberdyev for alleged links to Turkmen activists’ movement abroad and prosecuting him on bogus charges, the Turkmen government is demonstrating its complete disrespect for basic rights and freedoms,” said Tadzhigul Begmedova, director of the Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights. “Turkmenistan’s international partners should remind the authorities about their binding international obligations and send a clear signal that the continued crackdown would lead to serious consequences.”

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Turkmenistan, please visit: https://www.hrw.org/europe/central-asia/turkmenistan

For more information, please contact:
In New York, for Human Rights Watch, Rachel Denber (English, Russian, French): +1-917-916-1266 (mobile); or denberr@hrw.org . Twitter: @rachel_denber
In Varna, for Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Tadzhigul Begmedova (Russian, Turkmen, Bulgarian): helsinkitadm@gmail.com .
In Moscow, for Memorial Human Rights Center, Vitalii Ponomarev (Russian): tel. +7-910-424-58-06, or ponvit@gmail.com .


Posted by admin on 2020/10/12 9:00:00 (818 reads)

For Immediate Release

Turkey: Turkmen Activist Faces Deportation Dursoltan Taganova Risks Arbitrary Detention, Torture if Returned Home

(Berlin, October 12, 2020) – The Turkish government should halt plans to deport the Turkmen activist Dursoltan Taganova to Turkmenistan, where she will be at grave risk of arbitrary arrest and torture, a group of 11 human rights organizations said today. Turkish authorities should immediately release Taganova from custody.

Turkey’s international partners should call on Ankara to uphold its international legal obligations and not deport Taganova, who is seeking asylum in Turkey, to Turkmenistan.

“Turkmenistan is known to severely harass and punish peaceful critics of the government,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “To return Dursoltan Taganova to Turkmenistan would place her at grave risk of persecution and torture. Turkey should abide by its international obligations not to send her anywhere she could face ill-treatment.”

The 11 groups are Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, Crude Accountability, the Centre for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights, Democratic Civil Union of Turkmenistan, Freedom Files, Human Rights Watch, Institute of Human Rights, the Memorial Human Rights Center, Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, and the Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights.

Istanbul police detained Taganova, 29, on July 19, 2020, along with dozens of other Turkmen citizens, mostly migrant workers, who intended to join an unauthorized rally that day in front of the Turkmen consulate in Istanbul. The rally aimed to criticize the Turkmen government’s inadequate response to the Covid-19 crisis and to call for President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov’s resignation.

Turkmenistan’s extremely oppressive government allows no independent media or human rights scrutiny. The authorities suppress any indication of dissent and political expression and have driven into exile or imprisoned political opposition members, human rights defenders and activists, and independent journalists. The justice system completely lacks independence and transparency. Torture is widespread and dozens of people have been forcibly disappeared in Turkmen prisons, some for more than 18 years. The Turkmen government routinely imposes informal and arbitrary travel bans on various groups, including activists and relatives of exiled dissidents.

The Turkish authorities banned the July 19 rally, citing Covid-19 related requirements. Following a complaint filed by the Turkmenistan consulate, the police arrested about 80 Turkmen citizens, including Taganova, as they gathered outside the consulate building.

Most detainees were released about five hours later. Taganova’s lawyer told Human Rights Watch that she was the only Turkmen citizen whom Turkish authorities kept in custody. The lawyer said the consulate’s written complaint specifically mentioned Taganova. The authorities alleged that she and four other Turkmen citizens had interfered with Turkmen diplomats’ work and threatened violence against them. She was charged under Turkey’s Law on Demonstrations and Public Meetings (Law 2911).

On the same day, Taganova was transferred to the Selimpasa deportation center in Istanbul for “exceeding the duration of [her] visa exemption [stay]…”, for preparing to attend an unauthorized demonstration, and for protesting against Turkey.

Taganova has lived in Turkey since 2011 and her passport expired that year. This made it difficult for her to legally extend her residency permit. She made numerous attempts to renew her passport via the Consulate of Turkmenistan in Istanbul, as prescribed by the Law on Migration of Turkmenistan, but was told that she needed to go back to Turkmenistan. She did not return to Turkmenistan, fearing she would be denied permission to leave.

Turkey is one of very few countries to which Turkmen citizens can travel without a visa for up to 30 days and where they may apply and obtain a residence permit renewal on an annual basis. In recent years, the renewal of Turkmen passports for citizens living abroad has become a serious problem, news outlets have reported. Although international law mandates that states renew passports overseas via respective embassies and consular services, Turkmen diplomats often refuse, telling Turkmen citizens that the new passports can only be issued at their place of residence in Turkmenistan, to compel them to return.

Taganova’s lawyer said that while in administrative detention at the Selimpaşa deportation center at the end of July, she applied to the Turkish migration authorities for asylum. Her application is under review.

On July 20, the Istanbul Provincial Migration Directorate ruled that Taganova should be deported to her country of origin, or a safe third country, for violating visa exemption requirements and because she poses a threat to the public order, health, and security of Turkey. On July 28, Taganova’s lawyer appealed to the Istanbul administrative court, challenging the deportation decision. That appeal is also under review.

On July 23, Taganova’s lawyer applied for her release from administrative detention. On July 27, the Istanbul court rejected the application. Taganova was transferred on October 5 to the Kirklareli Pehlivankoy women’s deportation center, 200 kilometers outside Istanbul.

“Turkish authorities have little basis for keeping Taganova, an asylum seeker, in custody and should immediately and unconditionally release her,” said Tadzhigul Begmedova, director of the Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights. “Turkish authorities should also ensure that she will not be sent back to Turkmenistan, where she is at serious risk of torture.”

Sending people to a country where they face a real risk of torture is prohibited under international law. Turkey is a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, retaining a geographic limitation that excludes anyone not originally from a European country from full refugee recognition. Regardless of any geographic limitation under the Refugee Convention, Turkey must still abide in all cases with the principle of nonrefoulement, which provides that no one may be returned to a country in which they may face persecution.

Turkey also acceded to the United Nations Convention Against Torture in 1998, which obliges states to ensure that they do not send anyone to a place where they face a real risk of torture or other ill-treatment.

The UN Committee against Torture, in its concluding observations on the fourth periodic report of Turkey, in June 2016, raised concern that Turkey maintains a geographic limitation only to people originating from Europe and has violated the nonrefoulement principle under art. 3 of the Convention Against Torture for sending people to countries where they were at risk of torture. The committee has called on the Turkish government to lift the geographic limitation and ensure that “no one is expelled, returned or extradited” to a country where they may risk torture. Turkmenistan routinely harasses and intimidates families of peaceful critics and dissidents abroad, including with physical violence and arbitrary detention.

The groups have received credible reports that Taganova’s family in Turkmenistan may be subjected to serious threats of persecution and intimidation in retribution for her peaceful activism.

“Turkish authorities have an obligation to protect Taganova from the persecution she faces if returned to Turkmenistan,” said Vitalii Ponomarev, Central Asia expert at the Memorial Human Rights Center. “Turkey should also ensure she has access to legal status and to essential services.”

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Turkey, please visit:
https://www.hrw.org/europe/central-asia/turkey

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Turkmenistan, please visit:
https://www.hrw.org/europe/central-asia/turkmenistan

For more information, please contact:
In Berlin, Hugh Williamson (English, German): +49-172-282-0535 (mobile); or williaa@hrw.org. Twitter: @HughAWilliamson
In Istanbul, Tadzhigul Begmedova (Russian, Turkmen): helsinkitadm@gmail.com.

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Posted by admin on 2020/9/8 10:51:00 (898 reads)

The Authorities Fear Street Demonstrations

On the evening of September 5, 2020, the police in Balkanabad (formerly Nebitdag, the administrative center of Balkan Welayat in the west of the country) detained 48-year old Pygamberdy Allaberdyev—a lawyer for the Nebitdagneft department of Ministry of Oil and Gas of Turkmenistan. At first they accused the lawyer of hooliganism. However, by the evening it became clear that the arrest was made on the order of the Ministry of National Security, for suspicion of having links to activists of the protest movement.

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Posted by admin on 2020/8/30 20:52:00 (893 reads)

Statement by the Prove They Are Alive! Campaign on the International Day of the Disappeared

August 30, 2020

Today marks the International Day of the Disappeared, and the government of Turkmenistan continues to disappear people into its medieval prison system in gross violation of the country’s own legislation and in violation of international conventions and human rights standards.

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Posted by admin on 2020/8/18 9:57:00 (1939 reads)

According to reports from Turkmenistan, the authorities are increasing its pressure on civic activists, in an attempt to prevent the dissemination of criticism on the internet, and suppress information about street protests by Turkmen ex-pats overseas. (For more information, see: http://memohrc.org/en/news_old/stop-persecution-turkmen-civic-activists).
http://www.tmhelsinki.org/en/modules/news/article.php?storyid=3516

Many have activists described attempts to intimidate and pressure their relatives.

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