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Posted by admin on 2006/9/14 23:52:00 (1075 reads)

Vienna 14 September 2006. The International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) is dismayed at reports that Turkmen journalist and human rights defender Ogulsapar Muradova has died in custody while serving a prison sentence on apparently politically motivated charges.

The circumstances of Muradova’s death remain unclear, but relatives who saw her body earlier today reported that it bore signs of torture, including a large wound on the forehead and strangulation marks on the neck. Security officials insisted that Muradova’s death was natural and rejected a demand by her relatives that the body to be examined by an independent doctor. As of this writing, the body had been handed over to Muradova’s three adult children, while their contacts to the outside world were restricted.

Muradova was arrested in June 2006 together with two other human rights activists and on 25 August she was sentenced to six years in prison for illegal possession of weapons in a closed trial that fell seriously short of international human rights standards. Prior to the trial, Muradova was also accused of engaging in “subversive activities” and distributing “slanderous information” about Turkmenistan and there are credible allegations that she was administered psychopathic drugs in an attempt to force her to “confess” to these accusations. The IHF and other human rights organizations criticized the charges against Muradova and her colleagues as groundless and designed to punish them for their legitimate human rights work and criticism of official policies.

The Turkmen government has a long history of persecuting dissidents and of silencing those who dare to speak out about the widespread human rights violations in the country through intimidation, arbitrary arrest and detention, fabricated charges and torture.

The IHF recalls the responsibility of the Turkmen government for the well-being of those in its custody and urges the Turkmen authorities to conduct a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation into the circumstances of the death of Ogulsapar Muradova. Independent international experts should be invited to participate in the investigation and the results of it should be made public. If the investigation shows that Muradova died as a result of torture and ill-treatment the perpetrators must be brought to justice.

For more information and interviews please contact IHF Executive Director Aaron Rhodes, +43-676635 66 12

International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights
September 14, 2006


Posted by admin on 2006/9/14 23:51:00 (975 reads)

Radio Liberty journalist Ogulsapar Muradova has died in prison in Turkmenistan with reported injuries to her head, the station says.

A relative reported the news after family members were asked by officials to identify her body in a mortuary in the capital, Ashgabat.

Her children are quoted as saying the body has "marks on the neck" and a "large wound" on the head.

Turkmen officials reportedly said she had died of "natural causes".

Liberty's Turkmen Service correspondent was detained in June, along with several human rights activists.

The radio station says no initial reason was given for her detention, but she was convicted on 25 August on charges of illegally possessing ammunition.

Turkmenistan is effectively a one-party state run since Soviet times by Saparmyrat Niyazov, and has no independent media.

Liberty, or Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty as it is officially known, is a US-funded broadcaster with a stated mission to promote democracy in the former USSR and other regions.

'Natural causes'

Liberty says it was alerted to Ms Muradova's death by a member of her family who did not wish to be named.

Security officials at the mortuary assured the family that she had died of "natural causes" and they denied any wrongdoing.

After viewing the body, her relatives refused to sign a discharge form and left.

However, relatives later went back to the mortuary and demanded an independent medical examination, according to the Turkmen Helsinki Foundation (THF) human rights group.

"Morgue employees started threatening them," a THF activist said.

The time and circumstances of the journalist's death are unclear and it is also not known in which prison she was held, Radio Liberty says.

Tajigul Begmedova, head of THF, said Ms Muradova had been in excellent health before her arrest.

"Only after she was arrested she started asking for medicine," she was quoted by Liberty as saying.

"We then said it was strange that a healthy person should have health problems all of a sudden."

Ms Muradova was jailed in June.

BBC
September 14, 2006


Posted by admin on 2006/9/14 23:50:00 (1096 reads)

PRAGUE, September 14, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Family members say they were notified today by security officials of the death in custody of RFE/RL Turkmen Service correspondent Ogulsapar Muradova.

One of Muradova's relatives in Ashgabat, who did not want to be named for safety reasons, said security officials contacted family members and took them to the morgue to identify the body.

However, the relative said Muradova's family refused to sign a discharge form and left.

Wounds Reported On The Body

In a statement obtained by RFE/RL, an exiled Turkmen rights group says relatives went back to the morgue later and were authorized to see the body.

The Turkmen Helsinki Foundation (THF) quotes Muradova's children as saying the body the neck and has a "large wound" on the head.

"When [relatives] demanded that an independent doctor be allowed to examine the body, the morgue employees started threatening them," an activist said.

THF describes Muradova's death as a "political assassination."

The time and circumstances of Muradova's death are unclear. It is also not known in which prison she was held.

The relative interviewed by RFE/RL's Turkmen Service said security officials at the morgue assured the family that Muradova died of natural causes and denied any wrongdoing.

Those officials, who said they were "servicemen," also claimed they had nothing to do with Muradova's arrest and detention, telling relatives they should blame the National Security Ministry instead.

'An Astonishingly Healthy Woman'

THF Chairwoman Tajigul Begmedova reminisces about her apprehensions following Muradova's arrest.

"She was an astonishingly healthy woman," Begmedova said. "She had absolutely no health problems. Only after she was arrested she started asking for medicine. We then said it was strange that a healthy person should have health problems all of a sudden. Now she's dead and should authorities say she died on health grounds, it would be a sheer lie."

Begmedova says she talked to Muradova's children after they first went to the morgue.

"When they demanded that an independent doctor be allowed to examine the body, the morgue employees started threatening them," Begmedova said.

Relatives say two U.S. Embassy employees asked to see the body, but morgue employees did not allow them in.

Embassy officials were not immediately available for comment.

Detained In June

Muradova was detained in mid-June along with several human rights activists.

Authorities gave no reason for the arrests at the time.

National Security Minister Geldymukhammed Ashirmukhammedov later accused one of the detainees, Annakurban Amanklychev, of being involved in an alleged conspiracy to overthrow President Saparmurat Niyazov's government.

Muradova, Amanklychev, and a third defendant -- Sapardurdy Khajiev -- were sentenced on August 25 to up to seven years in jail on charges of the illegal possession of ammunition.

Rights groups have said the charges were fabricated and condemned the trial as a parody of justice.

RFE/RL
September 14, 2006


Posted by admin on 2006/9/14 23:49:00 (975 reads)

ANKARA, 14 Sep 2006 (IRIN) - An imprisoned Turkmen journalist, Ogulsapar Muradova, who had been working for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), was reported dead in custody on Thursday, according to the Turkmen Helsinki Foundation (THF).

"Muradova's children were asked to come to a morgue [in the capital, Ashgabat] today. They were not shown her body, but were told to sign a document stating they had been informed [of her death],■ Tajigul Begmedova, head of THF, said from the Bulgarian town of Varna where the organisation is based.

"Later the body was released to the family and it showed clear signs of violence and torture - severe bruising and large wounds to the head," Begmedova added.

Muradova, along with Annakurban Amanklychev, who worked for the French media company, Galaxie-Presse, were sentenced by a Turkmen court to six- and seven-year jail terms respectively on 25 August for illegally possessing ammunition.

Sapardurdy Khajiev, a human rights activist with THF based in Turkmenistan, was jailed for seven years in a high security prison for the same offence.

The RFE/RL journalist was taken from her home in Ashgabat by police on 18 June. Family members had not been allowed to visit Muradova and had only twice been allowed to send her a package of food and medication, RFE/RL said in a statement earlier.

Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov▓s regime is among the worst human rights offenders in the world, according to a recent report released by Freedom House on 6 September. 'The Worst of the Worst: The World's Most Repressive Societies 2006', is an annual compilation of the most dictatorial regimes in the world.

The Turkmen government has neither confirmed nor denied the reported death of the journalist, while THF called for an international action.

Reporters Without Borders (RWB), an international media freedom watchdog, has reported that Niyazov is on their international list of 35 predators of press freedom. Turkmenistan ranked 165 (third from the bottom) on RWB's 2005 Worldwide Press Freedom Index. Only Eritrea and North Korea have a worse record.

IRIN News
September 14, 2006


Posted by admin on 2006/9/14 23:45:00 (994 reads)

OSCE media freedom representative calls for transparency in handling of imprisoned Turkmenistan journalist's death

VIENNA, 14 September 2006 - The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Miklos Haraszti, today urged the Turkmenistan authorities to handle the death of Radio Free Europe reporter Ogulsapar Muradova in a transparent way.

Ms. Muradova, 58, died today in custody in Turkmenistan.

"I am saddened to hear of the death of Ms. Muradova. I also regret that she will not be able to appeal the court decision of 28 August, which sentenced her to six years in prison," Mr. Haraszti said.

Ms. Muradova and two Turkmen human rights activists, Annakurban Amanklychev and Sapardurdy Khadzhiev, were convicted in August on charges of illegal possession of ammunition. Amanklychev and Khadzhiev were handed seven-year sentences.

A report from the Turkmenistan authorities received earlier by Mr. Haraszti stated that Amanklychev and Muradova were "involved in criminal activities related to the collection of defamatory information in Turkmenistan in order to create public dissatisfaction."

OSCE
September 14, 2006


Posted by admin on 2006/9/14 23:43:00 (1014 reads)

PUBLIC
AI Index: EUR 61/013/2006
14 September 2006

Further Information on UA 172/06 (EUR 61/003/2006, 19 June 2006) and follow-up (EUR 61/005/2006, 4 July 2006; EUR 61/012/2006; 31 August 2006) - Arbitrary detention/Fear of torture/unfair trial
New concern: Death in custody

TURKMENISTAN

Ogulsapar Muradova (f), aged 58, journalist
Annakurban Amanklychev (m), aged 35
Sapardurdy Khadzhiev (m), aged 47



Early on 14 September, officers from the Ministry of National Security of Turkmenistan informed Ogulsapar Muradova’s relatives that she had died in custody. Amnesty International is concerned at allegations that she was subjected to torture and ill-treatment in detention and urges the authorities to conduct a thorough, prompt and independent investigation into her death.

Several officers from the Ministry of National Security came to Ogulsapar Muradova’s flat early on 14 September and informed her three adult children, Berdy, Maral and Sona, of her death, before taking the three to the morgue in the capital, Ashgabat, where police officers were reportedly also present. The Ministry of National Security officers reportedly refused to disclose any information about the circumstances of her death, including the date when she died. The Ministry of National Security officers and police officers reportedly urged them to sign her death certificate. However, Berdy, Maral and Sona refused, and demanded to see her body first before signing the paper. Tadzhigul Begmedova, exiled director of the human rights group Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation, told Amnesty International: “The officers shouted at them and said, ‘If you don’t sign this you will never see her body.”

Later, when the relatives returned to the morgue accompanied by a foreign diplomat, they were allowed to see Ogulsapar Muradova’s body. Tadzhigul Begmedova told Amnesty International: “They saw a huge wound on her forehead and marks on her neck.”

Despite persistent attempts by the relatives of Ogulsapar Muradova, Annakurban Amanklychev and Sapardurdy Khadzhiev to visit them in detention they have not been able to see them since their arrest in June. Ogulsapar Muradova’s death heightens Amnesty International’s concerns for the safety of Annakurban Amanklychev and Sapardurdy Khadzhiev.

Ogulsapar Muradova, Annakurban Amanklychev and Sapardurdy Khadzhiev were sentenced to terms of imprisonment in an unfair trial on 25 August. There are strong indications that the charges brought against them were fabricated to punish them for their human rights activities.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in English, Russian, Turkmen or your own language:

- expressing deep concern about the death in custody of Ogulsapar Muradova;

- urging the authorities to conduct a thorough, prompt, and independent investigation into the cause of her death; to keep Ogulsapar Muradova’s relatives informed of all steps of the investigation and to make the results public;

- stating that Amnesty International adopted Ogulsapar Muradova, Annakurban Amanklychev and Sapardurdy Khadzhiev as prisoners of conscience, detained for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression in defence of human rights, and has called for their prompt and unconditional release;

- urging the authorities to give Annakurban Amanklychev and Sapardurdy Khadzhiev immediate access to their relatives.

APPEALS TO:
President
President Saparmurad Niyazov
Presidential Palace, 744000 Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
Fax: + 993 12 35 51 12
Salutation: Dear President Niyazov

Minister of Foreign Affairs
Rashit Meredov
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Magtymguly avenue, 83 744000 Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
Fax: + 993 12 35 42 41
E-mail: mfatm@online.tm
Salutation: Dear Minister

COPIES TO: diplomatic representatives of Turkmenistan accredited to your country.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 26 October 2006.

Amnesty International
September 14, 2006


Posted by admin on 2006/9/14 22:22:00 (873 reads)

Journalist Ogulsapar Muradova was murdered in a Turkmen prison after one of her children challenged police surveillance methods. The adult-age children were taken early September 14 to an Ashgabat morgue to identify the body, which showed signs of a "violent death."

"The last year has seen dramatic escalations of harassment of dissidents and perceived dissidents and their families. In the past few months in particular we have received increased numbers of cases of arbitrary detention, interrogation, house arrest, bans on leaving the country, and beatings. But Ogulsapar Muradova’s apparent murder signals unequivocally that the gloves are now off," said Erika Dailey, the director of the Turkmenistan Project at the Open Society Institute. [EurasiaNet also operates under the auspices of OSI].

National Security Ministry officers took Muradova, a correspondent for the US-funded Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe and a human rights defender, into custody in June on suspicion of conspiring to engage in espionage. Two other local human rights activists, Annakurban Amanklychev and Sapardurdy Khajiyev, were also arrested in the case. Turkmenistan’s despotic leader Saparmurat Niyazov at one point publicly characterized the trio as "traitors to the Motherland."

In the end, Muradova and her co-defendants were charged only with illegal arms possession under Article 287 of the country’s criminal code. The defendants insisted that the case against them was fabricated. In a trial that lasted only a few minutes, Muradova was convicted and received a six-year jail term. The others received seven-year sentences.

From the moment of her arrest, Muradova was held incommunicado, preventing friends and relatives from monitoring her physical and mental state. Although in fine heath before disappearing into the Turkmen prison system, Muradova reportedly required medical treatment recently for an unspecified condition. Authorities also pressured lawyers not to have contact with Muradova and the other defendants.

On September 11, according to sources familiar with the events, Muradova’s son, Berdy Muradov, noticed tight surveillance, including the permanent stationing of national security agents outside the family home. When on September 13, Berdy Muradov went to a local police station seeking an explanation for the surveillance, authorities refused to give reasons for their actions, and sought to intimidate Muradov. Officers accused several of Muradov’s close relatives with carrying out anti-state activities, clearing implying that more arrests would result if he didn’t remain silent.

In the early morning of September 14, state security agents went to the Muradov family home, telling Berdy and two other grown children that their mother had died. At the morgue, Muradova’s children were initially denied permission to see the body. When they expressed a desire to bring in a doctor for an autopsy, and balked at signing a death certificate, security agents threatened reprisals against them.

A statement issued by Amnesty International quoted Tajigul Begmedova, the exiled head of the Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation, as saying: "The officers shouted at them and said, ‘If you don’t sign this, you’ll never see the body.’" Authorities would not tell the children anything about the time of or circumstances surrounding Muradova’s death.

Subsequently, the children returned to the morgue in the company of a foreign diplomat and they were permitted to view the body. According to Begmedova, the corpse showed numerous signs of trauma. "There was a huge wound on her forehead and marks on her neck," Begmedova told Amnesty International. The signs suggested that Muradov had experienced a powerful blow to the head from a blunt object, as well as suffered from strangulation.

"Muradova’s death heightens … concerns for the safety of Annakurban Amanklychev and Sapardurdy Khajiyev," the Amnesty International statement said.

Dailey said the United States and European Union had an obligation to confront Niyazov’s regime over rights abuses. "Torture and ill-treatment are an open secret in Turkmenistan," Dailey said. "Ogulsapar’s murder is a particularly terrible blow in part because protest from individual governments and intergovernmental bodies like the EU or the OSCE would probably have secured her release and made her death in detention avoidable."

"The European Union is currently debating whether to grant Turkmenistan most-favored-nation trading status," Dailey continued. "The pending Interim Trade Agreement is predicated on Turkmenistan promoting progress on human rights. The EU has a rare opportunity to call things by their proper name in Turkmenistan, put human rights ahead of energy interests, and vote down the Agreement."

Eurasianet
September 14, 2006


Posted by admin on 2006/9/14 22:06:00 (928 reads)

Journalist Ogulsapar Muradova was murdered in a Turkmen prison after one of her children challenged police surveillance methods. The adult-age children were taken early September 14 to an Ashgabat morgue to identify the body, which showed signs of a "violent death."

"The last year has seen dramatic escalations of harassment of dissidents and perceived dissidents and their families. In the past few months in particular we have received increased numbers of cases of arbitrary detention, interrogation, house arrest, bans on leaving the country, and beatings. But Ogulsapar Muradova’s apparent murder signals unequivocally that the gloves are now off," said Erika Dailey, the director of the Turkmenistan Project at the Open Society Institute. [EurasiaNet also operates under the auspices of OSI].

National Security Ministry officers took Muradova, a correspondent for the US-funded Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe and a human rights defender, into custody in June on suspicion of conspiring to engage in espionage. Two other local human rights activists, Annakurban Amanklychev and Sapardurdy Khajiyev, were also arrested in the case. Turkmenistan’s despotic leader Saparmurat Niyazov at one point publicly characterized the trio as "traitors to the Motherland."

In the end, Muradova and her co-defendants were charged only with illegal arms possession under Article 287 of the country’s criminal code. The defendants insisted that the case against them was fabricated. In a trial that lasted only a few minutes, Muradova was convicted and received a six-year jail term. The others received seven-year sentences.

From the moment of her arrest, Muradova was held incommunicado, preventing friends and relatives from monitoring her physical and mental state. Although in fine heath before disappearing into the Turkmen prison system, Muradova reportedly required medical treatment recently for an unspecified condition. Authorities also pressured lawyers not to have contact with Muradova and the other defendants.

On September 11, according to sources familiar with the events, Muradova’s son, Berdy Muradov, noticed tight surveillance, including the permanent stationing of national security agents outside the family home. When on September 13, Berdy Muradov went to a local police station seeking an explanation for the surveillance, authorities refused to give reasons for their actions, and sought to intimidate Muradov. Officers accused several of Muradov’s close relatives with carrying out anti-state activities, clearing implying that more arrests would result if he didn’t remain silent.

In the early morning of September 14, state security agents went to the Muradov family home, telling Berdy and two other grown children that their mother had died. At the morgue, Muradova’s children were initially denied permission to see the body. When they expressed a desire to bring in a doctor for an autopsy, and balked at signing a death certificate, security agents threatened reprisals against them.

A statement issued by Amnesty International quoted Tajigul Begmedova, the exiled head of the Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation, as saying: "The officers shouted at them and said, ‘If you don’t sign this, you’ll never see the body.’" Authorities would not tell the children anything about the time of or circumstances surrounding Muradova’s death.

Subsequently, the children returned to the morgue in the company of a foreign diplomat and they were permitted to view the body. According to Begmedova, the corpse showed numerous signs of trauma. "There was a huge wound on her forehead and marks on her neck," Begmedova told Amnesty International. The signs suggested that Muradov had experienced a powerful blow to the head from a blunt object, as well as suffered from strangulation.

"Muradova’s death heightens … concerns for the safety of Annakurban Amanklychev and Sapardurdy Khajiyev," the Amnesty International statement said.

Dailey said the United States and European Union had an obligation to confront Niyazov’s regime over rights abuses. "Torture and ill-treatment are an open secret in Turkmenistan," Dailey said. "Ogulsapar’s murder is a particularly terrible blow in part because protest from individual governments and intergovernmental bodies like the EU or the OSCE would probably have secured her release and made her death in detention avoidable."

"The European Union is currently debating whether to grant Turkmenistan most-favored-nation trading status," Dailey continued. "The pending Interim Trade Agreement is predicated on Turkmenistan promoting progress on human rights. The EU has a rare opportunity to call things by their proper name in Turkmenistan, put human rights ahead of energy interests, and vote down the Agreement."

Eurasianet
September 14, 2006


Posted by admin on 2006/9/14 15:14:00 (939 reads)

Since the beginning of this week, officers of Turkmenistan’s Ministry of National Security have been keeping a very close watch over the children of journalist Ogulsapar Muradova, who was convicted on August 25. During the last three months the authorities did not allow relatives of the detained activists to visit them. No one knew anything about their physical or mental condition. During the investigations Muradova, who was healthy before her arrest, asked to be sent some medications. Over the course of the investigation, the activists’ defense attorneys were subjected to significant pressure, prohibited from meeting with their clients’ friends and relatives, and threatened with dismissal from work. On Turkmen broadcasts, the authorities called Muradova’s lawyer “an informer for Radio Liberty.”

As of September 11, Muradova’s son, Berdy, was placed under round-the-clock surveillance. He was constantly followed by a green Grand Cherokee with tinted windows with the governmental license plate # 12 37 АН and by a Zhiguli-Lada, type 9 with a private license plate# К 7529 AG. Sometimes they were joined by two other vehicles. Policemen and officers of the Ministry of National Security kept watch over their house. Among the guards there were officers who arrested Muradova’s children on June 19, including one, Ilyas.

On September 13, Berdy Muradov went to the local police department of Kopetdag district and inquired about the surveillance. A policemen, Serdar, who refused to give his last name, began to threaten Berdy Muradov, and reproached him for his relatives’ work, as his aunt, Tajigul Begmedova, who is the chair of the Turkmen Helsinki Foundation, and his uncle, Annadurdy Hajiev, who is a member of the organization “Vatan,” are involved in human rights and opposition activities.

Early in the morning, on September 14, officers of the Ministry of National Security came to Muradova’s apartment and took her children without informing them of their destination. It turned out that they were taken to a morgue, where they were asked to sign a death certificate for Ogulsapar Muradova. Her children were not allowed to see the body or to bring in a doctor to conduct an autopsy. When Muradova’s children inquired as to the date and the cause of death, representatives of the authorities, including six officers of the Ministry of National Security, three policemen and an employee of the morgue, began to yell at them. They threatened to use force against the children and demanded that they name the people who advised them on protecting their rights. Ultimately, they said that they will never give them their mother’s body.

There are grounds to believe that Muradova died a violent death, which resulted from torture and inhumane treatment. That she asked for medications when she was kept in the pre-trial facility, that her children were not allowed to visit her even after the trial, that her lawyers were threatened, and that neither relatives nor observers were allowed to see the trial, indicate that the authorities are trying to conceal the real condition of the detainees.

The complete lack of transparency during the investigation and trial, and the illegal actions of the authorities at all stages of this case give rise to the conclusion that Radio Liberty journalist, Ogulsapar Muradova, was killed for political reasons.

Turkmen Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights
Translation prepared by OSI Turkmenistan Project
September 14, 2006


Posted by admin on 2006/9/11 15:48:00 (952 reads)

ai Deutschland startet „EinSatz“-Kampagne:
Jeder einzelne kann sich für Einzelfälle einsetzen

Berlin, 8. Dezember 2006 – Die Europäische Union muss Menschenrechtsverletzungen zur Priorität ihrer Außenpolitik machen. Gleichzeitig muss sie Menschenrechtsverletzungen in ihrem Innern thematisieren und ahnden. "Nur so kann sie gegenüber Drittstaaten glaubwürdig auftreten und die vakante Führungsrolle in der internationalen Menschenrechtspolitik einnehmen", sagte Barbara Lochbihler, Generalsekretärin der deutschen Sektion von amnesty international (ai) anlässlich des Internationalen Tages der Menschenrechte am 10. Dezember.

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