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Posted by admin on 2013/5/11 16:46:00 (2306 reads)

Authorities Should Free or Credibly Charge Radio Free Europe Writer

(Berlin) – Turkmen authorities should immediately free or credibly charge a journalist arrested on May 6, 2013, for unreported reasons. The journalist, Rovshen Yazmuhamedov, has been a local correspondent in Turkmenistan for United States government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) since September 2012.

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Posted by admin on 2013/5/11 16:13:00 (2185 reads)

Urgent Action

Rovshen Yazmuhamedov, a Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty journalist, was detained on 6 May in Turkmenistan by local police. Though the charges against him have not been disclosed by the authorities, there are fears that he may have been targeted in connection with his work and that he is at grave risk of torture.

According to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Rovshen Yazmuhamedov, 30, has been working with the Turkmen service since September 2012. He is a correspondent and mainly covers social issues. On 9 May his family informed RFE/RL of his detention. According to his family, Rovshen Yazmuhamedov, has been interrogated by security services several times in the past. He is currently being held in a temporary detention facility run by the department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs involved in the fight against organized crime and terrorism-related cases. His family has also told RFE/RL that the authorities have begun to install surveillance cameras around their

RFE/RL is one of the few remaining sources of independent information about life in Turkmenistan, despite the Turkmen authorities’ continued attempts to silence its journalists and other perceived critics. A correspondent with RFE/RL, Ogulsapar Muradova, was detained and died in custody in disputed circumstance in 2006. No effective and independent investigation appears to have been conducted into her death. In light of these circumstances, there are fears that Rovshen Yazmuhamedov might have been arbitrarily detained, is at immediate risk of torture and other ill-treatment and that he may be a prisoner of conscience.

Please write immediately in Turkmen, Russian, English or your own language:
 Urging the authorities to ensure that Rovshen Yazmuhamedov is not subjected to torture and other ill-treatment
and that his family is not subjected to any pressure or reprisals;
 Urging the authorities to immediately disclose the charges against him and release him immediately if no
recognizable criminal charges are brought against him;
 Stating that if it becomes clear that he was detained because of his journalist work, Amnesty International will
adopt him as prisoner of conscience and call for his immediate and unconditional release.

President of Turkmenistan
Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov
Presidential Palace
744000 Ashgabat
Fax: +993 12 93 5112 (please try a
couple of times between 10-1500 GMT)
Salutation: Dear President

Minister of Foreign Affairs
Rashid Meredov
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
83 pr. Magtymguly
744000 Ashgabat
Fax: +993 12 93 4241 (please try a
couple of times between 10-1500 GMT)
Salutation: Dear Minister

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country.
Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.

Name: Rovshen Yazmuhamedov (m), Ogulsapar Muradova (f)
Gender m/f: both
UA: 121/13 Index: EUR 61/001/2013 Issue Date: 10 May 2013

Posted by admin on 2013/5/11 7:22:00 (2133 reads)

EurasiaNet Commentary

Later this May, European Union officials will meet a delegation from Turkmenistan during annual human rights consultations. President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov’s authoritarian regime in Ashgabat is one of the most repressive in the world, yet the meeting poses perhaps the biggest test for the EU side.

In 2008, the European Parliament formulated human rights benchmarks as a precondition for the European Union’s (EU) relations with Turkmenistan. But since then, EU officials have consistently sidestepped Turkmenistan’s atrocious human rights record as they have sought to engage Ashgabat on security and energy issues.

Last July, the new EU Special Representative for Central Asia, Patricia Flor, stated that she did not support setting concrete benchmarks for progress on human rights in Central Asia as a foundation for the EU’s relationships with states like Turkmenistan. As the EU prepares to engage the Turkmen government at the EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue, it is imperative that the EU hold the Turkmen government accountable for its rights failings, and convey to Berdymukhamedov’s government that advancing relations with the EU is contingent upon its compliance with international standards.

Turkmenistan is an autocratic state in which Berdymukhamedov, who hails himself as Arkadag (Protector), enjoys unlimited power and total control over all aspects of public life. Since 2001, Freedom House has continuously ranked Turkmenistan as “the worst of the worst” among the world’s most repressive countries. The Turkmen government severely retaliates against anyone critical of its policies, including human rights defenders, journalists, and lawyers.

Arbitrary detention remains a serious problem. Despite pardoning some prisoners of conscience in February, the government continues to detain longtime political dissident Gulgeldy Annaniyazov. Mr. Annaniyazov, who was sentenced to 11 years in prison on unconfirmed charges after a closed trial in 2008, is being held incommunicado and the Turkmen government refuses to disclose information about his whereabouts or well-being. Young Jehovah’s Witnesses also face imprisonment for objecting to compulsory military service, a requirement of their faith.

Despite Turkmenistan’s abysmal human rights record, the EU has been lax in its obligations to address these violations and the total absence of genuine democratic reforms in Turkmenistan. Many of the documents establishing the EU’s relationship with Turkmenistan, including the EU’s Interim Trade Agreement with Turkmenistan, require that the Turkmen government meet human rights benchmarks, such as guaranteeing civil liberties, releasing all prisoners of conscience, and allowing international human rights monitors free access to the country. To date, Turkmenistan has not met any of these benchmarks.

Turkmenistan’s failure to make real progress has stalled ratification of its Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) in the European Parliament several times. However, some experts believe that ratification will eventually happen—in large part because of the EU’s growing interest in diversifying its energy supply by gaining access to Turkmenistan’s vast resources. But the EU must make it clear to the Turkmen government that its failure to meet the human rights benchmarks set by the European Parliament will not be rewarded with further engagement. The EU should not pursue stronger ties with Turkmenistan without the Turkmen government first showing definitive progress towards adhering to international standards for human rights.

In May, the EU will have the opportunity to engage the Turkmen government during its annual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue. The EU should use this dialogue to call for the Turkmen government to meet its human rights obligations. Specifically, the EU must press the Turkmen government to respect freedom of religion, belief, expression, press and assembly. The EU should make it clear to the Turkmen government that without the effective guarantee of these rights, there can be no genuine progress on democracy and human rights. The EU should also call for the immediate release of those arbitrarily detained for exercising their fundamental human rights, including the political dissident Gulgeldy Annaniyazov and at least nine imprisoned Jehovah’s Witnesses.

At the Human Rights Dialogue, the EU must make it clear to the Turkmen delegation that the country’s progress towards meeting human rights benchmarks is an essential element of its relationship with the EU and that progress toward deepening relations will not take place unless improvements are made.

Editor's note:
Mirakmal Niyazmatov is a program lawyer with Freedom Now, a US-based nongovernmental organization that works to free prisoners of conscience.

Posted by admin on 2013/5/11 6:05:00 (2278 reads)

Reporters Without Borders calls on the authorities to explain why they have been holding Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty correspondent Rovshen Yazmuhamedov in the northeastern city of Turkmenabat since 6 May.

“Yazmuhamedov’s unexplained detention for the past four days is completely arbitrary and represents a gross violation of his constitutional rights and the international conventions ratified by Turkmenistan,” Reporters Without Borders said.

“What is he accused of, and on what basis? When will he be tried and what are the grounds for holding him in the meantime? The authorities must answer these questions. In such a closed and repressive country as Turkmenistan, there is every reason to suspect that his detention is a reprisal for his journalistic activities.

“We are extremely worried for Yazmuhamedov because of the appalling conditions in Turkmen jails and the government’s attitude to independent media. The international community must do everything in its power to find out what has happened to him and to make sure he is freed.”

Reporters Without Borders added: “In particular, we urge the European Union’s representatives to raise Yazmuhamedov’s detention during the next session of its ‘human rights dialogue’ with Turkmenistan at the end of May, if this unacceptable situation goes on that long.”

Yazmuhamedov, who works for RFE/RL’s Turkmen service, disappeared on the afternoon of 6 May. His mother was told the next day that he had been arrested and was asked to bring his passport to police headquarters in Turkmenabat.

He is now thought to be in a prison belonging to the interior ministry’s Directorate No. 6, which specializes in terrorism and organized crime. His mother told RFE/RL yesterday that surveillance cameras were being installed around the family home. She could not be reached today.

“We have not succeeded in talking to Rovshen’s family today,” Muhammad Tahir, the head of RFE/RL’s Turkmen service, told Reporters Without Borders today. “Her phone line seems to have been disconnected. We still have not obtained any official comment [on the part of the authorities]. We are completely in the dark.”

Yazmuhamedov has worked for RFE/RL since September 2012, mainly covering social issues, which can be very sensitive in Turkmenistan.

A source familiar with his work mentioned a report he recently did about a young girl who was banned from attending a school for wearing an Islamic headscarf. The report elicited strong reactions. Independent journalism tends not to be tolerated in Turkmenistan, where all media are controlled by the state.

Despite some window dressing, Turkmenistan has made no real progress towards democracy in recent years and continues to have one of the world’s most authoritarian and ruthless regimes.

As the next round in the “human rights dialogue” approaches, Reporters Without Borders urges the European Union to hold firm on the conditions that Turkmenistan must fulfil in order to have a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) with the EU.

Any relaxation of the conditions would be a betrayal of Turkmen civil society and a sign of weakness towards the authorities, one that would hurt all future negotiations.

Turkmenistan has for years shared the bottom three places in the Reporters Without Borders press freedom index with North Korea and Eritrea.

Posted by admin on 2013/5/3 19:26:00 (2281 reads)

More than two decades after independence, press freedom remains stifled in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

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Posted by admin on 2013/5/3 6:26:00 (2119 reads)

“I am in favour of creating new political parties and organizing independent media.” (January 2012)

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Posted by admin on 2013/5/2 14:34:00 (2437 reads)

Profoundly embarrassed by a botched cover-up over President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov’s epic fail as a racehorse jockey, Turkmen authorities are engaged in frantic, if futile damage control efforts.

The opposition-oriented website reported April 30 that Turkmen security agents were swarming all over Ashgabat airport, reportedly stopping people as they prepared to board departing flights and taking “aggressive measures” to prevent the spread of images and video of Arkadag’s horsecapades.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Regnum news agency reported May 1 that Turkmen “specialists” were going to great lengths to determine the source of the video, which first appeared here on Regnum quoted a Ministry of National Security official as saying security officers had “checked out every last one of our citizens” who were at the track and now they were turning their attention to the foreign attendees.

“They are trying to determine the spot in the guest bleachers where the filming took place and the possible cameraman who might have uploaded the footage of the fall to the internet,” the Turkmen official told Regnum.

As readers will recall, Berdymukhamedov “won” a high-stakes horse race on April 28, but his efforts to convince the world that he is the reincarnation of Willie Shoemaker hit a brick wall when he went flying off his mount and did a face plant on the track shortly after crossing the wire.

Turkmen state-controlled media pretended as though nothing had gone wrong, reporting only that Berdymukhamedov had won the race and the $11-million purse that went to the winner. At least one Western media outlet swallowed the twisted Turkmen account.

There are lots of lessons to be learned from the Turkmen government’s handling of Berdymukhamedov’s pony ride:

-When it comes to kooky despots, Berdymukhamedov is the only clear rival to North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. The clip of Berdymukhamedov’s fall is a case of life imitating art, evocative of the race scene in the Sacha Baron Cohen 2012 satire, The Dictator. Berdymukhamedov’s evident need to be seen as the man who is the best at everything is as pathetic and bizarre as Kim’s budding friendship with Dennis Rodman.

-Turkmenistan’s cult of personality has stripped officials of common sense, and has fostered the rampant spread of ineptitude. After his wipe out, when he is sprawled out on the track, and it is unknown whether or not he has suffered a serious spinal injury, Berdymukhamedov is surrounded by minions dressed in black, who proceed to mindlessly lift him up and aimlessly carry him around. Basic medical procedure should have called for Berdymukhamedov to be kept motionless until he could have been placed on a backboard with his neck stabilized before any attempt was made to move him. If he had been seriously injured, all that movement could have killed him. It’s worth noting here that Berdymukhamedov and his predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov, have systematically neglected Turkmenistan’s health care system, effectively starving the country of skilled medical personnel.

-Western diplomats and business executives are enabling Turkmenistan’s personality cult. It’s sad to think that Turkmen authorities almost got away with totalitarian fraud. Security officials did their best to confiscate and delete all photos and video taken of Berdymukhamedov’s accident by those at the racetrack. You can’t blame the Turkmen for trying. After all, that’s what totalitarian regimes do: lie all the time. One of most disturbing and damning aspects of the incident is that virtually all of the hundreds of foreigners at the track, including many Western diplomats and business executives, appeared willing to go along with the Turkmen efforts to alter reality.

So while Turkmen security types keep searching for the source of the video showing the emperor without his clothes, those Western diplomats and business executives who were present should be examining their consciences. It was only through a fortunate coincidence that got its hands on the video. That most foreigners present didn’t do something to correct the record after the Turkmen media attempted to airbrush history is shameful.

Posted by admin on 2013/4/11 18:10:00 (1882 reads)


NEW YORK—Turkmenistan’s authoritarian state is being called to account before the UN Human Rights Committee over the death in police custody seven years ago of human rights activist Ogulsapar Muradova.

Muradova died on September 14, 2006, over ten weeks after being detained by police with her brother and another activist. The authorities blamed natural causes, but members of her family said her body bore marks of violence, and international human rights organizations have continued to press for a full investigation into her death.

A mother with three children, and the sister of an exiled opposition figure, Muradova also worked as a correspondent in the Turkmen capital Ashgabat for the U.S.-funded Radio Liberty radio station. She was a critic of the repressive regime of then president Saparmurat Niyazov, who ruled Turkmenistan from the collapse of the Soviet Union until his death in December, 2006.

Her brother Annadurdy Khadzhiyev, in a complaint filed on his behalf by the Open Society Justice Initiative, is now asking the UN Human Rights Committee to push for a proper investigation into his sister’s death and mistreatment.

“Turkmenistan has refused to openly investigate the events and mistreatment that led to my sister’s death, and to punish the abusers,” Khadzhiyev said. “The authorities should fully cooperate with the United Nations, and provide details about what happened to my sister. As the government continues talking about democratization, it should not be covering up the crimes of the past.”

James A. Goldston, executive director of the Open Society Justice Initiative, said: “This case involves egregious human rights violations. Turkmenistan needs to acknowledge its responsibility for Ogulsapar Muradova’s arbitrary detention, torture and death, and provide her family with remedies, including appropriate compensation and a public apology”.

After her arrest on June 18, 2006, the Turkmen police held Muradova in custody with virtually no connection to the outside world until she appeared for her trial on August 25, 2006, on charges of possessing weapons.

During her detention, she was interrogated without a lawyer, with indications that she was subjected to physical abuse, and the forcible use of drugs, to force an admission to trumped up charges. During this period, she passed a message to her family that she “could not stand the mistreatment”.

The government first claimed that Muradova died of “natural causes”. Several years later this was changed to “suicide”, after an alleged investigation that was never made public. In addition to failing to investigate her mistreatment and death, the Turkmen authorities have refused to provide redress to her family, and have persecuted Ms. Muradova’s children when they tried to draw international attention to her case. As a result, the family could not pursue any domestic remedies.

In the complaint to the United Nations, the Open Society Justice Initiative states that Turkmenistan is responsible for torture and arbitrary killing of Ms. Muradova, her arbitrary detention and egregious violations of her fair trial rights, including publicly declaring her guilt before her trial and denying her prompt effective assistance of a lawyer, and closing her trial to the public.

Muradova’s two co-defendants in the trial were released in February 2013 after serving their term.

Turkmenistan still remains closed to independent scrutiny: international human rights organizations are denied access to the country, and no independent monitors, domestic or international, have access to its detention facilities. Recently, the Committee against Torture expressed concern about use of torture to extract confessions from detainees, and forced confessions as evidence in court and about “numerous and consistent reports on a number of deaths in custody and on the alleged restriction on independent forensic examination into the cases of such deaths”.

Posted by admin on 2013/2/19 5:22:00 (2274 reads)

TURKMENISTAN: Two journalists freed after seven years in prison in appalling conditions

Reporters Without Borders is relieved to learn that journalists and human rights activists Annakurban Amanklychev and Sapardurdy Khadjiyev were released during the weekend on completing seven-year jail sentences in appalling conditions.

“We are delighted that these two journalists have finally been freed,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We often feared for their lives during these past years, in which reports of terrible prison conditions occasionally reached us. Nonetheless, they are in very poor shape after this ordeal. Nothing will be able to redress the seven long years of unjust detention.

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Posted by admin on 2013/2/16 22:13:28 (1637 reads)

(New York) – Two Turkmen civil society activists convicted on politically motivated charges were freed on February 16, 2013, after serving out their prison terms, Human Rights Watch said today. Sapardurdy Khajiev and Annakurban Amanklychev, wrongfully imprisoned since their arrest in June 2006, suffer numerous health problems from their incarceration.

“Every single second Khajiev and Amanklychev spent behind bars was a terrible injustice,” said Rachel Denber, deputy Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “While we’re overjoyed that they’re finally free, the oppressive state practices behind their jailing persist and should be addressed.”

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