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Posted by admin on 2006/10/20 17:25:00 (955 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 (893 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 (1002 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 (1107 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 (875 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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Posted by admin on 2006/10/10 8:04:00 (876 reads)

A recent survey showing that very few law students in Turkmenistan planned to work as lawyers has only underlined the difficult situation facing the profession.

Only two per cent of the law faculty students polled expressed a desire to work as lawyers, and in a sign of the lack of prestige enjoyed by the profession, 40 per cent were interested in the national security agency, 30 per cent in the court system, 20 per cent in the prosecution service and eight per cent in the interior ministry.

Local observers say one of the main reasons why this negative attitude is so prevalent is that it stems from President Saparmurat Niazov, known as Turkmenbashi. The president believes lawyers are a hindrance to society and government.

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Posted by admin on 2006/10/8 12:32:00 (988 reads)

A prominent human rights group has praised the European Parliament for not pursuing a trade agreement with Turkmenistan on human rights grounds.

Human Rights Watch said the decision showed that the EU would not allow abusive governments to profit from it.

An EU committee said it would not approve the deal without sustained improvement on human rights.

The EU called for the release of political prisoners and freedom for non-governmental organisations.

"This is a landmark decision against tyranny," said Holly Cartner, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch, of the decision by the EU Parliament's International Trade Committee.

The committee resolution stated that the EU would only approve an interim trade agreement with Turkmenistan if "clear, tangible, and sustained progress" on the human rights situation was achieved.

Death in custody

Turkmenistan is effectively a one-party state run since Soviet times by Saparmyrat Niyazov, and has no independent media.

Human Rights Watch says the human rights situation has deteriorated in recent months.

A Turkmen journalist, Olgusapar Muradova, died in custody last month. Family members who saw her body said she had sustained a wound to her head.

Ms Muradova was arrested in June together with several other people.

In a closed trial, two of the defendants were sentenced to seven years in prison, while Ms Muradova received a six-year sentence.

She died subsequently in prison in circumstances which Human Rights Watch describes as "highly suspicious".

October 4, 2006

Posted by admin on 2006/10/8 12:00:00 (1005 reads)

Statement by the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights

Vienna, 7 October 2006. The International Helsinki Federation for
Rights is calling upon the Russian Prosecutor General and the Minister
of Interior to take control of the investigation of the murder of
journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who was shot in Moscow on 7 October.

Speaking on behalf of the IHF, Executive Director Aaron Rhodes said,
are shocked, we are disturbed, and we mourn with her family. She was
among the very few Russian journalists who investigated the realities
the war in Chechnya, and she was doubtless the bravest. Insofar as
tragic conflict is known and understood at all, it is due in large part
to her professionalism and tenacity, for which she appears to have paid
with her life.”

For more information:
Aaron Rhodes, +43-1-676-635-6612

Posted by admin on 2006/10/7 12:30:00 (847 reads)

In 15 years as an independent nation, Turkmenistan has been a state where human rights, political expression and economic advancement have been shrinking rather than expanding. Condition of this Central Asian republic is largely the result of the policies of its president, Saparmurat Niyazov.

When the Soviet Union dissolved at the end of 1991, a number of its member states, such as Georgia and Ukraine, became more democratic. But many analysts, including Erica Dailey at the Open Society Institute in New York, say that for the people of Turkmenistan, the Soviet era, in many ways, was better than today.

"It is fair to say that the political, economic, environmental and social situations in Turkmenistan have all deteriorated dramatically since the Soviet period. Turkmenistan today is one of the most closed and repressive countries in the world. Turkmenistan regularly ranks among 'the worst of the worst,"' says Dailey.

"Father of All Turkmen"

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Posted by admin on 2006/10/6 12:01:00 (827 reads)

Rep. Smith Introduces Resolution Concerning Human Rights, Democratic Practices of Turkmenistan

WASHINGTON, Oct. 2 -- Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey, has introduced a resolution (H.Con.Res. 486) "expressing the sense of Congress that the Government of Turkmenistan should take immediate steps to improve its respect for human rights and democratic practices, in keeping with its international commitments and obligations."

The resolution, introduced on Sept. 27, was co-sponsored by Reps. Joe Pitts, R-Pennsylvania, and Mike McIntyre, D-North Carolina. It was referred to the House International Relations Committee and House Ways and Means Committee.

A copy of the full-text of the legislation follows:

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