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Posted by admin on 2006/12/19 20:31:00 (855 reads)

Vienna, 19 December 2006.
The International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) and the Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights (TI) are concerned about the detention of Andrey Zatoka, a well-known Turkmen ecologist and environmental activist, in the city of Dashauz on 17 December 2006. The reasons for Zatoka’s detention remain unclear, but the circumstances clearly suggest that it was an act of intimidation motivated by his civil society engagement.
Zatoka has been involved in civil society activities aimed at improving environmental conditions in Turkmenistan for many years and previously served as the co-chair of the Dashauz Ecological Club, which was closed down by a court in 2003. He was detained the same day as he was supposed to leave for Ashgabat, from where he was due to travel to Moscow to attend a meeting of the International Socio-Ecological Union, on whose advisory board he is serving. His family resides in Russia, and he planned to celebrate the New Year with them.

The IHF and the TI call on the Turkmen authorities to promptly investigate the case of Zatoka and to ensure that he is immediately released if his detention was politically motivated. We also urge the authorities to ensure that he can, without hindrance, continue to engage in peaceful and legitimate civil society activities benefiting the citizens of Turkmenistan, including by interacting with colleagues from other countries.
For more information:

Aaron Rhodes, IHF Executive Director, +43-676-635 6612
Henriette Schroeder, IHF press Officer, +43-676-725 4829

Farid Tukhbatullin, TI Chair, +43-1-944 1327

Posted by admin on 2006/12/16 15:36:00 (812 reads)

Over the course of three days this summer, Turkmenistan's interior ministry (formerly the local KGB) arrested three people and charged them with spying: Annakurban Amanklychev of the French TV production company Galaxie-Presse and the French TV station France 2; Ogulsapar Muradova, correspondent for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty; and Sapardurdy Khajiyev, a human rights activist.
Along with some other human rights activists, they were accused by the interior ministry on June 19 of spying for the intelligence services of NATO countries. They were also accused of collaborating with foreign diplomats (Henri Tomassini, a cultural officer at the French Embassy, and Benjamin Moreau, the representative in Turkmenistan of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) and Western journalists (Lucy Ash of the BBC and Catherine Berthillier of Galaxie-Presse). What was their real crime? Helping journalists report on Turkmenistan's totalitarian regime.

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Posted by admin on 2006/12/8 10:51:00 (842 reads)

The Turkmen authorities have declared the December 3 local elections a resounding success, saying they met international electoral standards. NBCentralAsia commentators cast doubt on this claim, saying the ballot did not offer voters a real choice.

These elections were the first time a choice of candidates was on offer for district- and municipal-level councils. Officials said turnout was 97 per cent. Similar multi-candidate elections were held for the gengeshes, the lowest tier of elected councils, on July 23 this year. This new style of election is underpinned by a law passed last year.

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Posted by admin on 2006/12/4 23:39:00 (898 reads)

Although the Turkmen government insists that protecting children is a priority, NBCentralAsia analysts say their basic rights are ignored and child labour is actively encouraged.

At a November 28 round-table meeting held to mark the 60th anniversary of the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, Turkmen officials said “the conditions are in place for our youngest citizens to have a full and happy life and to develop in harmony”.

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Posted by admin on 2006/11/25 8:14:00 (887 reads)

Every time Turkmenistan’s agricultural sector suffers some upset, officials get sacked. As NBCentralAsia commentators point out, these purges may serve the purpose of retribution, but they do little to improve matters on the ground.

The country’s official news agency reports that a special cabinet meeting chaired by President Saparmurat Niazov on November 24 is expected to discuss serious failings that were revealed when checks were carried out on the progress of the grain harvest.

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Posted by admin on 2006/11/22 21:56:00 (854 reads)

The authorities in Turkmenistan say the process of nominating multiple candidates for local elections has been completed successfully, and that campaigning is attracting a lot of public interest. NBCentralAsia commentators say that in reality, voters know little about either the forthcoming ballot or the candidates themselves, who have been handpicked for their loyalty to the regime.

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Posted by admin on 2006/11/18 10:13:00 (959 reads)

As plans move ahead to set up a United Nations-sponsored Regional Centre of Preventive Diplomacy in Ashgabat, NBCentralAsia political commentators are questioning whether the totalitarian regime in Turkmenistan is best placed to manage conflict prevention.

In an October address to the UN General Assembly, South Korean foreign minister Ban Ki-moon, who takes over as UN Secretary-General in 2007, urged member states to set a date for opening the preventive diplomacy centre, saying it would cost little and bring immense benefits.

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Posted by admin on 2006/11/3 18:56:00 (1259 reads)

New information
TKM 001 / 0806 / OBS 103.2
Arbitrary detentions / Harassment
October 31, 2006

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Turkmenistan.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources of constant acts of harassment against the family of Mrs. Ogulsapar Muradova, a Turkmen correspondent of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE / RL) and a former member of the Turkmen Helsinki Foundation (THF), whose death in detention was made public on September 14, 2006.

According to the information received, Mrs. Muradova’s children have been subjected to constant pressure from the authorities since September 14, 2006. For instance, police officers tried to deter them to attend their mother’s funeral, and put them under permanent and close surveillance at their home. They cannot have any external contact allowed, and their phone lines have been cut.

In view of these elements, the Observatory expresses its deepest concern regarding the safety and psychological integrity of Mrs. Muradova’s children, and urges the highest Turkmen authorities to guarantee their security and the respect of their freedoms of expression and movement, in all circumstances.

Besides, the Observatory reiterates its fear for the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Annakurban Amanklychev, an independent journalist, and Mr. Sapardurdy Khajiev, a human rights activist, both members of the THF, who were both sentenced along with Mrs. Muradova (See background information).

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Posted by admin on 2006/10/17 11:25:00 (861 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 2006/10/5 10:46:00 (909 reads)

(Brussels, October 4, 2006) – The European Parliament yesterday took a principled stand against grossly abusive governments by voting against a trade agreement with Turkmenistan, Human Rights Watch said.

The parliament’s International Trade Committee voted to stop further consideration of an interim trade agreement with Turkmenistan until its government significantly improved its human rights record.

“This is a landmark decision against tyranny,” said Holly Cartner, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Today’s vote signals that the EU will not allow grossly abusive governments to profit from EU engagement.”

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