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Posted by admin on 2006/9/24 9:07:00 (936 reads)

MOSCOW (AP)--Relatives of a Turkmen journalist who died while in prison face harassment from authorities in the repressive Central Asian nation and could face imprisonment themselves, an international reporters watchdog warned Friday.

Human rights groups say Ogulsapar Muradova, a reporter with U.S.-funded Radio Liberty, was tortured while in prison in Turkmenistan. The International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights said last week that her body, after it was released by authorities, was found to have a major head wound and there was evidence of strangulation.

Reporters Without Borders said in a statement Friday that three of Muradova's children, as well as their friends, have had their phones disconnected and their home is under constant surveillance. The children have also been fired from their jobs, the Paris-based group said.

"We fear that Muradova's children could suffer the same fate as she did, or could be deported to a location that is unknown to anyone but the police," the group said.

Muradova, who also worked with the Bulgaria-based Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation, and two other rights defenders were arrested in June, and in August were given sentences of between six and seven years for illegal possession of ammunition, according to Reporters Without Borders.

Radio Liberty said earlier that Turkmen authorities had declined the family's request that a medical examiner at the morgue conduct an examination, but allowed Muradova's two adult daughters to take their mother's body home after they appealed to the U.S. Embassy for help.

The family called a medical examiner, but Turkmen security agents surrounded the apartment building allowed no visitors to the Muradova family, it said.

Turkmenistan's autocratic president, Saparmurat Niyazov, has been in power since before the 1991 Soviet collapse, rules the desert nation with an iron fist. He tolerates no dissent and has developed an elaborate personality cult around himself.

Despite its grim human rights record, Turkmenistan has attracted sizable foreign investment because of its massive natural gas deposits.

Dow Jones International News
September 22, 2006


Posted by admin on 2006/9/23 13:06:00 (897 reads)

United States Mission to the OSCE: Statement Regarding the Death of Ms. Ogulsapar Muradova in Turkmenistan



As delivered by Ambassador Julie Finley to the Permanent Council, Vienna, September 21, 2006

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

We in the United States were saddened and concerned to learn last week of the death of Ogulsapar Muradova, a journalist who was imprisoned in Turkmenistan. We wish to extend our deepest condolences to the family of Ms. Muradova for their loss.

The facts surrounding this case give rise to numerous concerns. This much we do know: Ms. Muradova was accused by the Government of Turkmenistan of illegal weapons possession. We cannot know the truth of that accusation or the evidence against her, because her trial lasted less than two hours, and took place behind closed doors. She was convicted by a court on August 25 and sentenced to six years in prison. Less than three weeks later, she was dead.

We call upon the Government of Turkmenistan to conduct an immediate, thorough, transparent and impartial investigation into Ms. Muradova's death. We also call upon Turkmenistan's authorities to be transparent regarding the cause of death and to make public the results of the autopsy they conducted.

This case highlights the lack of independence in the Turkmen judicial system, and raises concerns regarding the absence of due process in both criminal and civil proceedings.

Furthermore, this death in custody in Turkmenistan underscores the need for greater transparency and international access to Turkmen prisons and to persons arrested in connection with the events of November 2002. This would include our former OSCE colleague Batyr Berdiev, who has not been seen by anyone in the international community since December 2002. In the face of the death in custody of Ms. Muradova, we call on the Government of Turkmenistan to demonstrate that Ambassador Berdiev is still alive, as they claim, by allowing the ICRC to have access to him. The United States is confident our OSCE Center in Turkmenistan can help facilitate this process if the government is willing.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

United States Mission to the OSCE
September 21, 2006


Posted by admin on 2006/9/23 13:05:00 (1029 reads)

Finnish Presidency of the Council of the European Union
Permanent Council No. 626

The European Union would like to draw attention to the statement of the EU Presidency issued in Brussels and Helsinki on 15 September 2006 concerning the death in custody of Ogulsapar Muradova sentenced to a six year imprisonment on 28 August this year in Turkmenistan. In line with ChairmaninOffice and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights the European Union urges the authorities in Turkmenistan to be fully transparent in this matter by making all relevant information available and providing the family of Mrs Muradova with comprehensive details.

The statement of 15 September reads as follows:

QUOTE
It is with deep concern that the Presidency of the European Union has learned about the death in custody of Ogulsapar Muradova. The Presidency calls for an independent investigation into the cause of her death.

In this connection the Presidency also expresses its deep concern about the denial of access of observers to the trial against Ogulsapar Muradova, Annakurban Amanklychev and Sapardurdy Khadijev. This denial would appear to be in conflict with the individual's right to a public hearing and it raises questions whether the proceedings in question constituted a fair trial or whether due process of law has been observed.

The European Union calls upon Turkmenistan to respect its obligations under international law and on the right to a fair trial.

The Presidency also urges the government of Turkmenistan to guarantee the safety of Mrs. Muradova's family members and the two other detained persons.
UNQUOTE

Furthermore, the European Union would like to express its concerns regarding the case of Mr. Kakabai Tedjenov. Mr Tedjenov was, reportedly, forcibly admitted to a psychiatric hospital in Turkmenabat in January 2006, and has allegedly since then been moved incommunicado between hospitals. The European Union calls upon Turkmenistan to provide information about his welfare and whereabouts and to treat this case in accordance with OSCE commitments.

The European Union recalls that it has repeatedly expressed its grave concern about the human rights situation in Turkmenistan. We urge the Turkmen government to implement fully its OSCE commitments and reiterate our readiness to assist Turkmenistan in this regard.

The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Serbia, EFTA countries Iceland and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, as well as the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this statement.

European Union
September 21, 2006


Posted by admin on 2006/9/22 23:28:00 (919 reads)

RFE/RL

Photo: Senator Sam Brownback

RFE/RL's Turkmen Service spoke this week with U.S. Senator Sam Brownback (Republican, Kansas), who also chairs the U.S. Helsinki Commission, about the recent death in custody of RFE/RL journalist Ogulsapar Muradova.


Brownback condemned Muradova's hasty trial, derided Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov's administration as «one of the most repressive regimes in the world,» and talked about ways to press it into a proper investigation.

RFE/RL: What would you like to say about the death in custody of Mrs. Muradova, the RFE/RL correspondent?

Sam Brownback: I want to express my deep condolences to her family on her loss. This is a tragic, terrible loss of a very courageous woman. I just want to express, first, my condolences. Second, this is an extraordinary circumstance, one filled with a lot of questions that the Turkmenistan authorities must answer. What was the cause of death? This needs to have a thorough examination subject to international standards for us to be able to have a full investigation and knowledge of what happened.

Second on this, it was a bogus trial that she was tried under in the first place. A 10-minute trial after which she is sentenced to six years in prison. This needs to be condemned by the international community, of how she was treated at her trial.

If Turkmenistan is to join with the community of nations around the world, it needs to maintain human rights and an open society and move forward with the rest of the world -- instead of this repressive nature of an old Soviet-style regime.

And the third thing and a key issue here is Turkmenistan operates one of the most repressive regimes in the world. This is according to Freedom House and many others. The president of the country [Saparmurat Niyazov] operates a cult of personality, and this has got to stop. If Turkmenistan is to join with the community of nations around the world, it needs to maintain human rights and an open society and move forward with the rest of the world -- instead of this repressive nature of an old Soviet-style regime.

RFE/RL: Have you or someone from your office managed to contact the Turkmen authorities to ask about the cause of her death?

Brownback : We have contacted authorities and have still received no adequate response.

RFE/RL: Some reports suggest that the Turkmen authorities conducted an autopsy of Muradova. Do you know anything about the result?

Brownback : I do not know anything about this and, as I stated previously, it must be conducted according to international standards and oversight so that we can have some bit of assurance as to what was the actual cause of death in this case.

RFE/RL: We have been informed that currently all contact with Muradova's relatives has been blocked. They could face pressure from the government. What can be done to help them? And what are you planning to do in a situation like this?

Brownback : Clearly the Turkmen authorities need to allow the family to speak out and to speak with the family. This is just a matter of human decency. Here is a woman who has a family who has died at a relatively young age in highly questionable circumstances after a bogus trial. The Turkmen government needs, just as a matter of decency to the family, allow the family to look into this, to allow the family to have some closure on this matter. We will be pushing the Turkmen government to allow the family these modest rights as a family of a person who has passed away.

Hearing International Voices?

RFE/RL: I remember your previous press releases expressing concern about her detention and the detention of many other activists in the past. I don't know whether you received any feedback from the Turkmen government at all, but Ashgabat mostly ignores such things. How are you planning to engage the Turkmen government, while many human rights groups describe the situation on human rights in the country as getting worse and worse?

Brownback : We're going to continue to shine a light on the operation of the Turkmen government and its operation outside of international norms regarding human rights activities. And it is our hope that there will come a pressure point along the way of things that the Turkmen government is trying to get access to that we can bring some pressure to bear on them to grant these basic, modest rights, and [that] instead of declining in human rights that it will improve its human rights record and its allowance of activities by individuals.

This is a country that's going the wrong way. They have done some work in the religious-freedom area, but in many of the other areas [they] maintain a great deal of suppression and oppression. It needs to change that direction.

Tough To Pressure

RFE/RL: A few days ago the U.S. government issued a report on religious freedom and there was, of course, mention that Turkmenistan has been criticized in the reports of other organizations like Freedom House, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International. But pressure on human rights and civil society and freedom of speech in Turkmenistan continues. Where do you think this country is going? Why do the demands of the international community have little impact on the situation?

Brownback : I don't think that the international community has necessarily turned its back on the situation. People are concerned about it and that's why you're seeing these reports coming out and being very clear about the status and the lack of human rights in Turkmenistan. I think what happens, though, is that you have to find points in time when you can bring legitimate pressure to bear, and those usually come when the Turkmen themselves, the government, is looking for some support, some access to the international community. And those are the points in time when we really have more ability then to press these issues. The Turkmen government should do it anyway. It would be for the betterment of the future of their nation if they would do this. But they haven't and we need to keep the reports coming, the information out, the pressure on and look for a zone of time when we can really put some pressure on that might yield some more clear results.


Источник :: Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty


Posted by admin on 2006/9/22 22:19:00 (1077 reads)

IHF: An Open Letter for Freedom of Expression in Turkmenistan: Turkmen Dissident Remains in Forced Psychiatric Detention Despite International Appeals

Vienna, 30 August 2006

H.E. Mr. Karel De Gucht
OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Minister of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belgium
15, Rue des Petits Carmes
B-1000 Brussels, Belgium

Chairman De Gucht,

I write to you gravely concerned that the freedom of expression in Turkmenistan, despite international pressure, continues to be violated with impunity and that the health and welfare of an innocent Turkmen citizen, having exercised this fundamental freedom, is seriously at risk.

In February 2006, the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) and the Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights (TIHR) jointly released an open letter addressed to all OSCE delegations about the politically-motivated detention of 70-year-old Turkmen citizen Kakabai Tedjenov, a pensioner and a vocal critic of President Niyazov’s administration.

Mr. Tedjenov was detained on 4 January 2006 and taken to a psychiatric hospital under charges that remain unknown. Prior to his detention, he frequently had sent letters of protest to local and national authorities, decrying government policies. On 7 June 2005, for instance, he dispatched telegrams to the president and prosecutor general of Turkmenistan attacking administration practices. In September 2005, he distributed a pointed declaration among international contacts admonishing President Niyazov for failing to address issues important to citizens of Turkmenistan such as widespread poverty and high rates of unemployment. The declaration also called upon the international community to impose sanctions on Turkmenistan for repeated human rights violations.

In our letter, we concluded that the circumstances of Mr. Tedjenov’s case clearly suggest that he was targeted by authorities for merely exercising his right to the freedom of expression, a right which Turkmenistan, as a party to the ICCPR and an OSCE participating State , has undertaken to respect. Indeed, as early as May 2004, authorities detained Mr. Tedjenov, along with fifty other participants, for protesting official policies during a visit by President Niyazov to Turkmenabat, Mr. Tedjenov’s hometown in eastern Turkmenistan.

We asked that the OSCE Permanent Council quickly take up the case for discussion and consideration. The response, in late February, from the Delegation of Turkmenistan to the OSCE was disappointing. In a brief statement distributed to OSCE participating States, the delegation denied that Mr. Tedjenov had ever been detained or that he had ever been confined to a medical institution.

All of our information, gathered from numerous, credible sources, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Center “Memorial”, contravenes such a flat denial. Since the reported date of Mr. Tedjenov’s detention, his daughter Olga Tedjenova has, for example, been trying to determine his whereabouts by inquiring with government authorities, but they continually refuse to give any definite information. Despite such obstacles to information, we have managed to compile an account of Mr. Tedjenov’s detention.

Not having committed any obvious crime, he has been moved from one psychiatric hospital to another, where at different points he has been confined to cells with murderers and cells for those with no relatives to care for or visit them. In March, he was reportedly sent to the urology department at a medical hospital for treatment, only to be sent back to a psychiatric institution where he remains today.

It is this latest development – Mr. Tedjenov’s return to a psychiatric ward following medical treatment – though only recently uncovered, that leads the IHF to appeal directly to you as the OSCE Chairman-in-Office. This move, on top of his now seven-month long detention and the refusal of the Turkmen OSCE delegation to acknowledge it, charges Mr. Tedjenov’s case with renewed urgency.

The IHF therefore calls upon the OSCE Chairman-in-Office to take up the Tedjenov case bilaterally with the relevant Turkmen authorities and to push for making information on the case more readily accessible. Mr. Tedjenov was a politically-active pensioner speaking out against the failings of his government, exercising a fundamental right of the human dimension, before he was wrongfully silenced by government authorities.

His silenced voice speaks volumes about the current state of the freedom of expression in Turkmenistan, and we hope that the OSCE Chairman-in-Office can give voice to the concerns of the international community by addressing this case.

Respectfully,

Aaron Rhodes, IHF Executive Director

Cc:
OSCE Delegations
OSCE Secretary General
OSCE Centre in Ashgabad
ODIHR
United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
National Helsinki Committees
Amnesty International
Memorial
Open Society Institute


Posted by admin on 2006/9/22 13:04:00 (976 reads)

Reporters Without Borders: Appeal for support for Muradova’s family now under threat from government

Reporters Without Borders said today it was extremely alarmed by the threats hanging over the relatives of Radio Free Europe correspondent Ogulsapar Muradova who died under torture in a Turkmen prison earlier this month and the two others journalists and human rights activists imprisoned with her, Annakurban Amanklychev and Sapardurdy Khajiyev.

This case must not be forgotten, as it would just make matters easier for the Turkmen authorities, the press freedom organisation said. We fear that Muradova’s children could suffer the same fate as she did, or could be deported to a location that is unknown to anyone but the police. We call on the international community to put pressure on the Turkmen government.

According to information received by Reporters Without Borders, President Nyazov has ordered that the families of all three journalists should be transferred to an unknown location by mid-October.

Muradova’s three children are currently cut off from the outside world, as both their fixed-line and mobile telephones and those of their friends have been disconnected. Their home is under active surveillance by the security services and it is virtually impossible for them to move about. They have been fired from their jobs and have no funds.

Muradova, Amanklychev and Khajiyev were arrested between 16 and 18 June for helping a French TV production company journalist, and were sentenced at a summary trial on 25 August to prison terms ranging from 6 to 7 years on trumped-up charges of illegal possession of ammunition. Muradova, 58, died as a result of beatings she received while in prison.

Zuzana Loubet del Bayle
Secrétariat international de Reporters sans frontières
5, rue Geoffroy Marie
75009 Paris
Bureau Europe/ Europe Desk
Tél. 00 33 (0)1 44 83 84 65
europe2@rsf.org

Reporters Without Borders
September 21, 2006


Posted by admin on 2006/9/21 13:06:00 (974 reads)

PRAGUE, September 20, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- A U.S.-based nongovernmental organization says Turkmen authorities have are preventing the relatives of late RFE/RL's Turkmen Service correspondent Ogulsapar Muradova from communicating with the rest of the world.

Erika Dailey, who heads a Turkmenistan projected run by the Open Society Institute, told RFE/RL that the measures even apply to members of Muradova's extended family living far from the capital, Ashgabat.

Dailey said, "there has been no opportunity to communicate with [Muradova's] children since September 15, after which the authorities cut their phone lines -- and not only their phone lines, but the phone lines of the extended family, reaching as far as Dashoowuz and Nebit-Dag."

Her children were notified of her death on September 14.

Muradova died while serving a six-year prison sentence on charges rights groups have described as trumped up. Muradova was sentenced on August 25 after a closed trial that lasted just a few minutes.

Turkmen security officials claim Muradova died of natural causes, but friends and relatives suspect foul play.

Western rights groups and international organizations have called upon Turkmen authorities to fully and fairly investigate Muradova's death.


Posted by admin on 2006/9/21 8:10:00 (977 reads)

15 September 2006
PRESS RELEASE
According to information before IPI, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) Turkmen Service correspondent Ogulsapar Muradova died in custody while serving a prison sentence on charges that were said to be politically motivated. Her relatives were notified by police on 14 September, but the circumstances of her death remain unclear.

Based on media reports, Muradova’s body bore signs of torture, and there were marks on her neck and a head wound. In an interview with RFE/RL, Muradova’s relatives said security officials at the morgue assured the family that she died of natural causes, but rejected the family’s demand that the body should be examined by an independent doctor.

Muradova was detained on 18 June along with several human rights activists. No reason was given for the arrests at the time, but National Security Minister Geldymukhammed Ashirmukhammedov later accused one of the detainees, Annakurban Amanklychev, of planning to overthrow President Saparmurat Niyazov’s government.

On 25 August, Muradova was sentenced to six years in prison by the Azatlyk district court in Ashgabat for illegal possession of ammunition. The trial, which reportedly lasted under two hours, was closed to the public. Amanklychev and Sapardurdy Khajiev, who is also a human rights activist, were sentenced to seven years in jail. Many human rights groups condemned the trial as a parody of justice and said the charges were fabricated. The International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) said Muradova was accused of engaging in "subversive activities" and distributing "slanderous information" about Turkmenistan prior to her trial. The possibility that she was administered psychopathic drugs in an attempt to force her to confess was also not excluded by IHF.

Regarding Muradova’s death, IPI Director Johann Fritz said, "Freedom of the media is virtually non-existent in Turkmenistan, and the government has often resorted to intimidation, detention and fabricated charges as a means of silencing its critics."

"IPI is very concerned about the safety of all journalists trying to report in the country, and would like to remind the Turkmen government of everyone’s right to ‘seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers’ as guaranteed by Article 19 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Muradova’s death must be investigated by impartial international experts, and those responsible must be brought to justice, if it is determined that she died of unnatural causes."


Posted by admin on 2006/9/20 7:51:00 (1075 reads)

His Excellency President Saparmourat Niazov
Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
c/o HE Ambassador to United States of America
Email: turkmen@mindspring.com

19 September 2006

Your Excellency,

We are writing on behalf of the World Association of Newspapers and the World Editors Forum, which represent 18,000 publications in 102 countries, to express our outrage at the death in jail of journalist Ogulsapar Muradova.

According to reports, Ms Muradova, who worked for Radio Free Europe, died in jail in Ashgabat less than a month after she was sentenced to six years’ detention. On 14 September Ms Muradova’s family was called to the morgue by security services to collect her body, although the time and circumstances of her death remain unclear. Some reports suggest that Ms Muradova may have received a wound to the head and been beaten. Morgue officials, however, reportedly claim that the cause of death was natural but have refused to allow an independent doctor access to the body.

Ms Muradova was arrested in June with two human rights activists, Sapardurdy Khajyev and Annakurban Amanklytshev. They were convicted at a closed-door trial "for illegal possession of ammunition". In August, Ms Muradova’s co-accused were sentenced to seven years in jail.

We respectfully call on you to ensure that Ms Muradova’s death is fully and fairly investigated and that - should it be discovered that the cause of death was non-natural causes - those responsible are brought to justice. We call on you to take all necessary steps to ensure that your country ends its oppression of the press and observes international standards of free expression

We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Gavin O’Reilly
President
World Association of Newspapers

George Brock
President
World Editors Forum

WAN is the global organization for the newspaper industry, with formal representative status at the United Nations, UNESCO and the Council of Europe. The organization groups 18,000 newspapers in 102 countries, 11 news agencies and nine regional and world-wide press groups. WAN is non-governmental and non-profit.


Posted by admin on 2006/9/17 17:43:26 (1015 reads)

Europe and Central Asia: Summary of Amnesty International's Concerns in the Region: January – June 2006
Turkmenistan excerpt

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