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Posted by admin on 2006/10/17 11:25:00 (875 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 (923 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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Posted by admin on 2006/9/26 11:43:00 (1089 reads)

All progressive organizations, defenders of women's rights, protectors of human rights, freedom seekers and progressive individuals!!!

Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights is carries petition in protection of turkmen journalists, active workers of a civil society, human right activists, oppositionists and heterodoxies. All who condemns vicious practice of the Turkmen authorities regularly pursuing heterodoxy in its any display can leave the signature under the petition:

Tadzhigul Begmedova,
Chair of Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights
September 26, 2006

Posted by admin on 2006/9/22 13:04:00 (989 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 2006/9/17 17:43:26 (1032 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 (999 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 (965 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 2006/9/14 23:55:00 (1015 reads)

New York, September 14, 2006―The Committee to Protect Journalists deplores the death in prison of a reporter for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Turkmenistan. CPJ called for an inquiry into the death of Ogulsapar Muradova of RFE/RL’s Turkmen service whose body was released to her family today.

One Turkmen human rights group which had spoken with relatives said Muradova had suffered head and neck injuries.

Authorities in the capital Ashgabat handed over the body only after Western diplomats accompanied Muradova’s children to the morgue, the station’s Turkmen service director Aleksandr Narodetsky told CPJ. They declined the family’s request for an autopsy and did not disclose the cause or date of death.

Security forces surrounded the Muradova home and prevented people from seeing the body or contacting Muradova’s relatives whose telephones have been cut.

Following her detention, Muradova, 58, was held incommunicado and denied legal counsel. She was convicted of possessing ammunition and sentenced to six years in jail on August 25 after a closed-door trial that lasted only minutes. See CPJ’s news alert:

“We mourn the death of our colleague Ogulsapar Muradova,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “Authorities have not yet made public the time and cause of death but their secretive conduct, combined with unofficial accounts of wounds found on her body, raise suspicions of foul play.”

The Turkmen Helsinki Foundation, a human rights organization operating from Bulgaria, released a statement, saying that Muradova’s body showed a large head wound and bruises around the neck. It spoke with her adult children Sona and Maral before the telephones were cut. RFE/RL’s Narodetsky also said that the children reported that their mother had a head wound.

An official at the Turkmen embassy in the United States said that the embassy was unaware of Muradova’s case.

The Turkmen Helsinki Foundation Local human rights activists said Muradova had been drugged in jail, tortured, and coerced to confess to “illegal activities.”

The fate of two local human rights activists, who were tried and imprisoned on identical charges along with Muradova remains unknown. Annakurban Amanklychev and Sapardurdy Khadzhiyev, were sentenced to seven years in prison in the same closed trial.

U.S. government-funded RFE/RL was the last foreign broadcaster to maintain a network of correspondents in the secretive Central Asian state, which is tightly controlled by Saparmurat Niyazov, declared president for life in 1999.

Committee to Protect Journalists
September 14, 2006

Posted by admin on 2006/9/14 23:54:00 (926 reads)

International rights organizations have expressed outrage at news that RFE/RL's Turkmen Service correspondent Ogulsapar Muradova died in custody. They blame Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov's government for what they say appears to be an extrajudiciary execution and call upon the international community to press Ashgabat to shed light on the journalist's death.

PRAGUE, 14 September 2006 (RFE/RL) -- The Reporters Without Borders (RSF) media watchdog said it was "shocked" by reports of Muradova's death.

Talking to RFE/RL from Paris, the RSF's Elsa Vidal said the group has called for a protest meeting in the French capital.

Protest Started

"We have decided to demonstrate outside Turkmenistan's Embassy in Paris so that this murder will not be left unpunished and at least we [do not remain] silent," she said.

Talking to RFE/RL's Turkmen Service from the embassy's building a few hours later, RSF editor Jean-Francois Julliard said some 30 people had gathered there and were seeking to meet with the Turkmen ambassador.

"We won't leave the embassy until we have news about what [really] happened to Ogulsapar," he said.

Muradova's children say security officials notified them of their mother's death today. Family members were eventually authorized to see Muradova's body.

Wounds Seen

They were subsequently quoted by the exiled Turkmen Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (THF) as saying the corpse had marks on the neck and a "large wound" on the forehead.

Security officials, however, claim Muradova died of natural causes.

But for THF chairwoman Tajigul Begmedova, there is no doubt Muradova was killed.

"We're confronted with the active political assassination of Ogulsapar Muradova, an RFE/RL journalist and a former human rights activist," she said. "We have all reasons to say that [she] died of a violent death after being tortured and offended."

Aaron Rhodes, the executive director of the Vienna-based International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF), also says he believes Muradova died violently.

Trumped Up Charges?

"It appears that she has been summarily executed by the authorities, which she certainly doesn't deserve, and nobody does," he said.

Muradova was arrested in mid-June with several human rights activists and her three adult children without explanation.

Her children were later released. But the journalist and two codefendants -- THF activists Annakurban Amanklychev and Sapardurdy Khajiev -- were sentenced on August 25 to up to seven years in jail on charges of illegally possessing ammunition, charges that rights groups say were fabricated.

Rhodes says his and other organizations have had serious concerns about the detentions and the trial.

Seeking An Explanation

"IHF and quite a few other human rights groups have appealed to the Turkmen authorities about this case beginning on July 17," he said. "We have been worried about the status of these prisoners who [were] detained without explanation and eventually sentenced in a kind of a show trial which does not meet international standards of due process and to which no member of the international community was allowed to access to observe. The trial lasted something like 10 minutes and does not satisfy anyone that there was a serious examination of guilt or innocence before the law."

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) today called upon Turkmen authorities to shed light on Muradova's death.

Miklos Haraszti, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, told RFE/RL's Turkmen Service that he was "quite shaken" and "very sad" by news of the journalist's death.

Haraszti also said he regretted that Muradova did not have time to appeal the court decision that sentenced her to jail.

September 14, 2006

Posted by admin on 2006/9/14 23:53:00 (1027 reads)

Calling for a full investigation into how she died, the press freedom organisation voiced concern about the two people who were tried and convicted with her as the same secret trial on 25 August, one of whom was a fixer for the French television production company Galaxie-Presse.

Reporters Without Borders has learned that police took Muradova’s adult children this morning to the Ashgabat morgue where they informed them of her death and showed them the body. There was a head wound and many marks on the rest of the body. Sources had previously reported that Muradova was mistreated following her arrest on 16 June and while she was awaiting trial.

“It is essential that the international community, especially the European countries, the United States and Russia, should demand to know what happened,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Impunity and indifference are the worst form to treatment for journalists who fall victim to the enemies of press freedom and for their relatives.”

The organisation also voiced “great concern” about the fate of Muradova’s co-defendants, fixer Annakurban Amanklychev and human rights activist Sapardurdy Khajiyev, who received sentences of six and seven years respectively at the same trial, that was held secretly without any independent observers and lasted less than two hours.

Reporters Without Borders
September 14, 2006

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