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Posted by admin on 2006/9/22 22:19:00 (1114 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.


Aaron Rhodes, IHF Executive Director

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

Posted by admin on 2006/9/22 13:04:00 (1000 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

Reporters Without Borders
September 21, 2006

Posted by admin on 2006/9/21 13:06:00 (999 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 (1004 reads)

15 September 2006
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 (1113 reads)

His Excellency President Saparmourat Niazov
Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
c/o HE Ambassador to United States of America

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
World Association of Newspapers

George Brock
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 (1045 reads)

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

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Posted by admin on 2006/9/17 16:03:00 (1010 reads)

Attention: Assignment Editor, City Editor, News Editor, World News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor
Iranian activists demand the arrest of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for the violation of human rights in Iran
Homa Arjomand calls Press Conference at Queen's Park, Toronto, on Monday September 18, 2:00 pm
Homa Arjomand, Coordinator of the International Campaign Against Sharia Court in Canada is calling a press conference where she and other Iranian activists will demand the arrest of President Ahmadinejad for crimes against humanity.
"We declare that President Ahmadinejad has violated Articles 9, 10, 11 and 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.", said Homa Arjomand. "We therefore call on the United Nations to arrest President Ahmadinejad for violating human rights in Iran".
The protestors claim President Ahmadinejad is responsible for the assassinations and executions of tens of Iranian activists both in Iran and abroad.
"It is a disgrace to the United Nations to permit this man, with his record on human rights, the privilege to speak at this assembly, especially when he has taken the same rights from people in Iran and in tens of cases he has also taken their lives", added Homa Arjomand.
Iranian refugees and exiles living in Canada will gather at Queen's Park in Toronto to demand that Canada extradite President Ahmadinejad and to have him stand trial in Canada for the death of Canadian photographer, Zahara Kazemi.
Friends and family of the following activists who have been killed by Iranian authorities in the past three months will speak at Queen's Park:
• Vali Faiz Mahdavi
• Akbar Mohhammadi
• Hojat Zamani
Location: Queen's Park, Toronto
Date: Monday, September 18, 2006, 2:00 pm
An open microphone will also be available for other Iranians attending the protest. They will be able to tell their personal stories and to expose the crimes and human rights abuses of this Iranian regime and the leading terrorist – President Ahmadinejad.
Hundreds of activists from Canada will join several thousands Iranians protesting at the United Nations to demand the arrest of President Ahmadinejad
After the press conference on Monday, Homa and several hundreds of Canadians will travel to New York City to protest at the United Nation where they will demand the arrest of the Iranian President Ahmadinejad.
Location: In front of the United Nations
Date: Tuesday, September 19, 2006, 10:00 AM
"We have three buses going to New York, as well many cars and minivans, said Homa, "please contact us if you want to join the protest of this terrorist from Iran"
About the Campaign
Homa Arjomand is the Coordinator of the International Campaign Against Sharia Court in Canada. She started her campaign in Toronto in October 2003 with a handful of supporters, and today it has grown to a coalition of 87 organizations from 14 countries with over a thousand activists. In February 2006, the Ontario Government passed legislation which ended the use of religious laws for family arbitration. Since then, the Campaign has focused its efforts on stopping political Islam globally. Homa is now Coordinator of a campaign called “No to political Islam” and was a human rights activist in Iran until she was forced to flee in 1989
Ms. Homa Arjomand 416-737-9500.

Posted by admin on 2006/9/16 22:05:00 (975 reads)

A human rights activist and journalist has died in prison in Turkmenistan, a rights group said Thursday.

Ogulsapar Muradova bore a major head injury and there was evidence of strangulation, said Aaron Rhodes, executive director of the Vienna-based International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights.

He blamed the government for what he said appeared to be a violent death.

"It's an extremely serious crime that has taken place," Rhodes said. "First of all because she was unfairly tried and imprisoned, and now she appears to have been the victim of an extrajudicial killing."

Muradova was associated with the Bulgaria-based Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation rights group and was a reporter with U.S.-funded Radio Liberty.

She and two other rights defenders were arrested in June and later handed sentences ranging from six to seven years, according to the International Helsinki Federation. The charges were unclear.

The press freedom advocacy group Reporters Without Borders also demanded a full investigation of the death and expressed concern for the two other prisoners.

The group said Muradova's adult children had been shown her body at a morgue in the capital, Ashgabat.

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

After the family called a medical examiner, Turkmen security agents surrounded the family's building, barring any visitors, the group said.

Authorities in Turkmenistan could not be reached for comment. Autocratic President Saparmurad A. Niyazov, in power since before the 1991 Soviet collapse, tolerates no dissent.

Los Angeles Times
September 15, 2006

Posted by admin on 2006/9/16 8:11:00 (1039 reads)

BRUSSELS, 15 September 2006 - The OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Belgian
Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht, today expressed deep concern about the
death in custody of Radio Free Europe reporter and human rights activist
Ogulsapar Muradova. Her relatives were informed of her death on Thursday.

"I urge Turkmenistan's authorities to immediately begin a full and impartial investigation into the circumstances surrounding her death," Minister De Gucht said. "The results of the investigation and a full explanation should be made public as soon as possible."

On August 25, a court in Turkmenistan sentenced Muradova, 58, to six years in prison on charges of illegal possession of ammunition following a trial held behind closed doors.

"I once again call on Turkmenistan to adhere to its OSCE commitments," the Chairman-in-Office added.

Posted by admin on 2006/9/15 22:08:00 (948 reads)

GENEVA (AP)--The U.N. on Friday said it was "very disturbed" by the death of a human rights activist and journalist in Turkmenistan, and called for an independent investigation.

Jose Diaz, spokesman for U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour, said U.N. officials were monitoring the case of Ogulsapar Muradova's death.

The Vienna-based International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights announced that Muradova's body had been seen by her relatives Thursday. The group's director blamed the government for what he said appeared to have been her violent death.

"We are very disturbed about the death in a Turkmen prison of Ogulsapar Muradova," Diaz told reporters at the U.N.'s European headquarters in Geneva. "We urge the Turkmen authorities to conduct a thorough, prompt and independent investigation into the cause of her death, including an independent medical examination of the body, and to make public the results of that inquiry."

Muradova was affiliated with Bulgaria-based Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation, and was a reporter with U.S.-funded Radio Liberty. She and two other rights defenders were arrested in June and later sentenced to between six to seven years, according to the International Helsinki Foundation.

Diaz said authorities had charged her with "illegal arms possession after a trial widely reported to be unfair." He called her "a human rights defender."

The global body's rights office, Diaz said, was concerned about the fate of Amankurban Amanklychev and Sapardurdy Khajiyev, the two others associated with the Bulgaria-based group who were arrested with Muradova.

The media freedom advocacy group Reporters Without Borders also has demanded a full investigation into Muradova's death.

Another media rights group Friday expressed dismay with how Turkmen authorities "have not yet made public the time and cause of death."

"Their secretive conduct, combined with unofficial accounts of wounds found on her body, raise suspicions of foul play," said Joel Simon, executive director of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

Dow Jones International News
September 15, 2006

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