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Posted by admin on 2006/11/3 18:56:00 (1311 reads)

New information
TKM 001 / 0806 / OBS 103.2
Arbitrary detentions / Harassment
October 31, 2006

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Turkmenistan.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources of constant acts of harassment against the family of Mrs. Ogulsapar Muradova, a Turkmen correspondent of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE / RL) and a former member of the Turkmen Helsinki Foundation (THF), whose death in detention was made public on September 14, 2006.

According to the information received, Mrs. Muradova’s children have been subjected to constant pressure from the authorities since September 14, 2006. For instance, police officers tried to deter them to attend their mother’s funeral, and put them under permanent and close surveillance at their home. They cannot have any external contact allowed, and their phone lines have been cut.

In view of these elements, the Observatory expresses its deepest concern regarding the safety and psychological integrity of Mrs. Muradova’s children, and urges the highest Turkmen authorities to guarantee their security and the respect of their freedoms of expression and movement, in all circumstances.

Besides, the Observatory reiterates its fear for the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Annakurban Amanklychev, an independent journalist, and Mr. Sapardurdy Khajiev, a human rights activist, both members of the THF, who were both sentenced along with Mrs. Muradova (See background information).

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Posted by admin on 2006/10/26 21:03:00 (953 reads)

A decision by the Turkmen government to make all the country’s media operate out of the same building is not so much an attempt to control broadcasters and the press – that happened long ago – as a way of making it easier to keep tabs on journalists.

On October 17, President Saparmurat Niazov formally opened the Palace of Free Creativity in the centre of Ashgabat. The ten-storey building is shaped like an open book, and will be home to some 200 journalists working for the state media.

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Posted by admin on 2006/10/25 19:29:00 (993 reads)

The daughter of Turkmen political dissident Kakabay Tejenov has told RFE/RL's Turkmen Service that her father appears to have been released from forced psychiatric detention.

Olga Tejenova told RFE/RL from Moscow today that her 70-year-old father is currently in a hospital in the eastern city of Turkmenabat, formerly known as Charjew.

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Posted by admin on 2006/10/24 18:55:00 (1109 reads)

Hare Krishna devotee Cheper Annaniyazova was freed from the women's labour
camp in Dashoguz [Dashhowuz] in northern Turkmenistan on the morning of 19
October, as part of the country's annual prisoner amnesty, Forum 18 News
Service has learnt. She has now returned to her family in the capital
Ashgabad [Ashgabat]. "Of course we're all very pleased to have her home,"
sources close to her case told Forum 18 News Service on 21 October.
However, she remains restricted in her rights.

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Posted by admin on 2006/10/20 20:27:00 (984 reads)

Although Turkmenistan’s human rights record came under scrutiny at a recent meeting of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, NBCentralAsia political commentators say nothing will improve unless OSCE member states exert direct pressure on the country.

Turkmen opposition leaders and human rights groups discussed human rights abuses in Turkmenistan with representatives from OSCE member countries at the grouping’s annual Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, which ended in Warsaw last week. NBCentralAsia has been told that the session involved more people representing Turkmenistan than at previous events, and they were able to set out a clear picture of the human rights situation in their country.

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Posted by admin on 2006/10/20 17:25:00 (972 reads)

The fact that the Turkmen government frees around 10,000 prisoners in a single act of amnesty every year gives some indication of just how many people are going through the criminal justice system there.

Every year since 1999, the authorities have announced a mass amnesty for Laylat al-Qadr, an important date in the Muslim calendar which this year falls on the night of October 19-20 in Turkmenistan. They have already said that 10,056 convicts will be freed in this year’s release.

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Posted by admin on 2006/10/20 15:24:00 (909 reads)

The invitation list for a meeting of diaspora Turkmen currently taking place in Ashgabat is only for friends of President Saparmurat Niazov. Most Turkmen community representatives abroad will stay away, given the nature of the regime

The conference, held to mark the 15th anniversary of the Humanitarian Association of World Turkmen, which Niazov himself has chaired since 1991, has been flagged as an event to tell the diaspora about the country’s “unprecedented successes”.

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Posted by admin on 2006/10/19 21:26:00 (1021 reads)

Reporters Without Borders voice outrage today at the ³House of Free Creativity² that President Separmurad Nyazov inaugurated on 17 October in Ashgabat and dedicated to the free press. A 10-storey building in the form of a book that shines at night, it can receive up to 200 journalists in air-conditioned rooms equipped with computers and Internet access. It was built with help from the French industrial group Bouygues at a cost of 17 million dollars.

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Posted by admin on 2006/10/17 16:51:00 (1131 reads)

Washington, DC - Representative Adam Schiff, Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus for the Freedom of the Press, has written to the President of Turkmenistan calling on him to investigate the death of journalist Ogulsapar Muradova and restore the right to a free press in his country. It is believed that Ms. Muradova was falsely tried and sent to jail solely for her work as a journalist. While in jail, Ms. Muradova appears to have been assaulted or tortured, and died of her injuries. Rep. Schiff was joined by a group of seventeen bipartisan colleagues in signing the letter.

"The censorship, intimidation, imprisonment, and murder of journalists violate not only their personal liberty, but also the rights of those who are denied access to [important] ... ideas and information," the letter to President Niyazov reads. "International law clearly guarantees freedom of expression and the right to a free press, and we urge the restoration of these rights in Turkmenistan."

The text of the letter is below.

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Posted by admin on 2006/10/17 11:25:00 (887 reads)

PRAGUE, October 16, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- RFE/RL sponsored a roundtable on Turkmenistan on the sidelines of the OSCE's annual Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in early October. The OSCE event is touted as Europe's largest human rights conference, bringing together representatives from government, civil society, and international organization. Some of the leading authorities on Turkmenistan were in Warsaw, although local NGO representatives were reportedly prevented from leaving Turkmenistan to attend an event where criticism of President Saparmurat Niyazov and his administration was bound to figure prominently.

Many participants in the RFE/RL roundtable conceded that Turkmenistan's geostrategic importance has swelled along with its reputation for rights violations.

Critics complain that Turkmenistan retains some of the worst traits of the Soviet Union -- a heavy security-service presence, and a huge propaganda machine devoted to supporting the government and vilifying enemies.

Akhmukhammet Velsapar is a journalist who has long covered events in Turkmenistan. He said the roots of Central Asia's sorriest administration can be found in Turkmenistan's days as a Soviet republic:

"All that there is in Turkmenistan today, the worst situation if we compare all the former Soviet republics, has developed in Turkmenistan. And this didn't just happen in one day," Velsapar said. "This was all going on for many years, and the roots of many current problems go back to the days of the Soviet Union."

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