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Posted by admin on 2016/6/9 20:26:00 (899 reads)

Ends 13-Year Travel Ban
(Berlin) – Turkmen authorities dropped a 13-year travel ban against three family members of an exiled dissident, Pirkuli Tanrykuliev, allowing them to leave the country on June 4, 2016, a coalition of human rights groups said today. Tanrykuliev’s daughter, Ayjemal Rejepova, and her two daughters, ages 3 and 11, were able to fly to Turkey, where Tanrykuliev’s wife awaited them.

The Turkmen government has arbitrarily banned several thousand people, including relatives of imprisoned or exiled critics of the government, from travel abroad to intimidate them and punish their family members. At times the authorities have turned the family members away at the airport or physically removed them from flights.

“Finally, after more than 13 years, Pirkuli Tanrykuliev’s family can be together,” said Rachel Denber, deputy Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “We hope that the Turkmen government will end its practice of arbitrary travel bans, so that other families can experience this same joy.”

Tanrykuliev is a retired doctor and medical school professor, and a former member of Turkmenistan’s Parliament. He was imprisoned in 1999 to silence his outspoken criticism of the government and prevent him from running for parliament again. He was freed in 2000, and eventually given asylum in Norway. President Gurganguly Berdymukhamedov of Turkmenistan, who is a dentist, was one of Tanrykuliev’s college students.

Soon after Tanrykuliev’s arrest, Rejepova and her husband were fired from their jobs. Law enforcement and security services subjected them to surveillance, periodically interrogated them, and tried to intimidate them. They were also banned from leaving the country.

In July 2015, Rejepova and her two daughters were barred from boarding a flight for Turkey. A migration services official told them they were banned “for life” from leaving the country, and their passports were stamped and signed “exit banned.” In summer 2014, Tanrykuliev’s brother, Doly, age 71 at the time, was removed before take-off from a flight to Turkey. He suffered a stroke soon thereafter, which his family felt was a direct result of the stress from the episode.

After the July incident, Rejepova filed an inquiry with the migration services about her travel ban. She received a written reply only after the November visit to Ashgabat by United States Secretary of State John Kerry, who had been informed of the ban. The reply, dated November 20, 2015 (on file with Memorial Human Rights Center and Human Rights Watch), merely stated that, “in accordance with findings by relevant government agencies, restrictions on your travel remain in force.”

Human Rights Watch, Memorial, and the Prove They Are Alive campaign, an international coalition to end enforced disappearances in Turkmenistan, along with other independent human rights groups, have raised Rejepova’s case repeatedly with European Union officials, in the context of the EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue, and of discussions around the EU-Turkmenistan Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. Human rights groups had also urged US officials to raise her case in their bilateral discussions with the Turkmen government.

On April 6, 2016, Rejepova once again wrote to the State Migration Services asking for an explanation of the legal grounds and duration of the travel ban, and which agency had imposed it. In mid-May, she received a reply stating that neither she nor her children were subject to any travel restrictions. A source close to the family said that Rejepova was so surprised by the written reply that she went in person to the State Migration Service to receive oral confirmation.

In September 2015, Turkmen authorities also allowed Geldy Kyarizov, a prominent horse breeding expert who fell out of favor with the government, to leave the country, after banning him numerous times from foreign travel. The authorities allowed his teenage daughter to leave a week later.

Freedom of movement is guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Turkmenistan ratified in 1997.

“Allowing Rejepova and her children to board the plane is the only right thing for the authorities to have done,” said Vitalii Ponomarev, Central Asia program director at Memorial Human Rights Center. “Turkmenistan’s international partners should consistently remind the Turkmen government that freedom of movement is a fundamental right, and urge the Turkmen government to end all its travel bans and allow those on the ‘black lists’ to travel abroad.”

www.hrw.org


Posted by admin on 2016/5/7 14:33:00 (1011 reads)

United States Commition on International Religious Freedom

Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan is the most closed country in the former Soviet Union.

Key Findings

In 2015, in a climate of pervasive government information control, particularly severe religious freedom violations persisted in Turkmenistan. The government requires religious groups to register under intrusive criteria, strictly controls registered groups’ activities, and bans and punishes religious activities by unregistered groups. Police raids and harassment of registered and unregistered religious groups continued. The penalties for most “illegal” religious activities were increased in 2014. Turkmen law does not allow a civilian alternative to military service, and at least one Jehovah’s Witness conscientious objector is known to be detained. In light of these severe violations, USCIRF again recommends in 2016 that the U.S. government designate Turkmenistan as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA). In July 2014, the State Department designated Turkmenistan a CPC for the first time. USCIRF has recommended CPC designation for Turkmenistan since 2000.

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Posted by admin on 2016/3/10 20:24:00 (1171 reads)

Turkmenistan's petro-authoritarianism is likely to continue to be fuelled by a combination of its large natural gas reserves, small population and steady global demand for natural gas, writes Annette Bohr.

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Posted by admin on 2015/12/26 16:15:00 (1392 reads)

Turkmenistan Criminalizes ‘Improper’ Horse Burials

Frances Martel

The law only affects owners and breeders of one breed of horse, the Akhal-Teke, which is venerated in Turkmenistan as a national sacred animal. President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has made it illegal to change the name of one of these horses during its lifetime and criminalized the improper burial of such a horse. They must now “be buried in an area designated by local authorities and in the presence of an official, who will register the death,” according to Radio Free Europe. The law will be especially taxing on rural breeders who live miles from government offices. RFE notes that burial ceremonies for horses are common, however, so the codification of this practice will not result in any new tradition.

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Posted by admin on 2015/12/25 16:10:00 (1344 reads)

'It Means Everything And Its Opposite At The Same Time'

Bruce Pannier

What this neutral status means for Turkmenistan is still not clear 20 years later.

The meaning of neutrality as articulated by the late President Saparmurat «Turkmenbashi» Niyazov in 1995 has little resemblance to the neutrality policy Turkmenistan practices today under current President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov.

RFE/RL's Turkmen Service, known locally as Azatlyk, assembled a panel to discuss what the neutrality status has done for, and done to Turkmenistan over the last 20 years.verything And Its Opposite At The Same Time'.

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Posted by admin on 2015/11/4 16:04:00 (1364 reads)

October 28, 2015

The Honorable John F. Kerry
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW Washington, DC 20520
Via facsimile and email

Dear Mr. Secretary,

The Committee to Protect Journalists is writing to bring to your attention the deteriorating climate for press freedom in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. As you prepare to head to these countries later this week, we ask that you put press freedom on the agenda of your meetings with high-level government officials.
Freedom of the press has steadily worsened in the post-Soviet countries of Central Asia, according to research by CPJ and other international press freedom and human rights groups. In these countries, the media have faced bans on distribution, draconian legislation, and online censorship, and critical journalists and bloggers have been subject to politicized prosecution, violent attacks, murder, and imprisonment.

The voices of critical journalists in these countries have been silenced over the years. Authorities in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan are holding at least six journalists behind bars in relation to their reporting, our research shows. Their cases, which have been independently verified by CPJ, are detailed in a list Journalists imprisoned in CA we are attaching to this letter. Two of them, Muhammad Bekjanov and Yusuf Ruzimuradov, have been jailed in Uzbekistan on anti-state charges since 1999. Another, Kyrgyz journalist Azimjon Askarov, is serving a life term in retaliation for his coverage of official abuses.

All of our findings have been reflected in reports and statements issued by the State Department.

Mr. Secretary, you have staunchly defended and advocated for press freedom during your time as a U.S. Senator and now as U.S. Secretary of State. We urge you to seize this opportunity and stand up for journalists imprisoned in the Central Asian countries. Specifically, we ask that you publicly call on government officials in Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan to release all journalists imprisoned in relation to their work.

We look forward to your response.
Sincerely,
Joel Simon
CPJ Executive Director

CC List:
Tom Malinowski, Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. Department of State
Dunja Mijatovic, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media
George A. Krol, U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan
Sheila Gwaltney, U.S. Ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic
Susan M. Elliott, U.S. Ambassador to Tajikistan
Allan Phillip Mustard, U.S. Ambassador to Turkmenistan
Pamela L. Spratlen, U.S. Ambassador to Uzbekistan


Posted by admin on 2015/11/4 15:58:00 (1283 reads)

Uncovering evidence of mass forced evictions and house demolitions in Turkmenistan

Amnesty International, October 2015

One of the first instances of mass forced evictions in Turkmenistan, reported in the media and dating back to July 2004, related to a settlement of approximately one hundred houses in Keshi district. Media reported that residents were not given any compensation and those who protested were forced to sign a statement undertaking not to express their opinions publicly. At the time, several women and one man were reportedly detained by police, allegedly for approaching the United Nations staff in Turkmenistan for help; it is not clear what happened to them after their arrest. There have been further, regular reports about mass forced evictions in the capital city of Ashgabat since President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov came to power in 2007, following the death of his predecessor Saparmurat Niyazov. However, the scale of 2015 evictions appears to exceed all previous instances.

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Posted by admin on 2015/10/29 8:53:10 (1614 reads)

Turkmenistan: Satellite images reveal how mass forced evictions blight upcoming Asian Games

An estimated 50,000 or more people have been forcibly evicted from their homes as part of a push to “beautify” the capital of Turkmenistan ahead of the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, Amnesty International revealed today as it published satellite images showing the extent of the devastation.

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Posted by admin on 2015/10/25 5:10:00 (1438 reads)

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

The Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances called on States to put on the top of their agenda the eradication of enforced disappearance.

It also urged Governments to address the changing nature of the problem due to new patterns of enforced disappearance, the growing activity of non-state actors and new types of victims.

“We can’t pretend anymore it is just an issue of the past. Enforced disappearances continue to occur while we speak,” the Vice-Chair of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, Bernard Duhaime, told on Wednesday the UN General Assembly.

“The tragedy of enforced disappearance must be recognized as a modern-day issue in order to develop effective and comprehensive measures for its eradication,” the human rights experts said recalling that, since the beginning of the year, they have been working on over 150 recent cases of enforced disappearances perpetrated all over the world.

“It is unconceivable that, in 2015, we receive new cases of enforced disappearances virtually every day. If we consider that the cases we receive are certainly only the tip of the iceberg, this shows very clearly how grim the situation is,” Mr. Duhaime said.

“This is a clear indication that this heinous practice is still used in a number of countries, with the false and pernicious belief that it is a useful tool to preserve national security and combat terrorism or organized crime.”

“We can’t pretend anymore it does not concern us, that it is not our problem. It is one of the biggest modern tragedies and we need to act now. It must be our common objective and priority”, Mr. Duhaime observed.

The experts of the Working Group also drew attention to the changing forms of modern-day enforced disappearances. Among them, they expressed serious concern about a pattern of ‘short-term’ enforced disappearances.

They also highlighted the pattern of people being disappeared, sometimes on a massive scale, by non-state actors. In some cases these actors, which include paramilitary groups, militias and organized criminal gangs, are operating with the connivance or tolerance of the State.

These new patterns of enforced disappearances and new offenders unfortunately affect new victims. In addition to the political opponents who in the past were the targets of enforced disappearance, today victims include vulnerable people of every sector of the society, including migrants.

The Working Group also noted increasing reports of enforced disappearances occurring in the context of migration and it announced that it will focus on this issue its next report to the Human Rights Council.

“The changing nature of enforced disappearances requires new strategies to counter them. We offer our advisory services to all States to reflect together on how to tackle and hopefully eradicate this heinous phenomenon once and for all,” Mr. Duhaime concluded.

The Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances: was established by the UN Commission on Human Rights in 1980 to assist families in determining the fate and whereabouts of disappeared relatives. It endeavours to establish a channel of communication between the families and the Governments concerned, to ensure that individual cases are investigated, with the objective of clarifying the whereabouts of persons who, having disappeared, are placed outside the protection of the law.

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=16636&LangID=E


Posted by admin on 2015/8/12 21:24:00 (1617 reads)

VIENNA, 12 August 2015 – OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today called on the authorities in Turkmenistan to release journalist Saparmamed Nepeskuliev.

“According to information available to my Office, Nepeskuliev has been detained for more than a month without any charges brought against him,” Mijatović said. “Based on the long-standing and constructive co-operation between the authorities in Turkmenistan and my Office, I call for his release.”

According to reports, Nepeskuliev, a freelance journalist and contributor to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s (RFE/RL) Turkmen Service and Alternative Turkmenistan News, was detained on 7 July and is being held in a temporary detention facility in Turkmenistan’s Balkan Province. Nepeskuliev’s relatives were informed that he has been charged for illegal drug possession but no formal charges have yet been made.

In a letter to the authorities in Turkmenistan on 29 July Mijatović expressed concern that Nepeskuliev’s family is not allowed to meet him and that the journalist has not been provided with legal counsel.

http://www.osce.org/fom/176726


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