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Posted by admin on 2005/3/31 15:18:00 (874 reads)

On March 3, 2005, a well-known Turkmen writer, Rahim Esenov, was due to fly to Moscow for extensive medical examinations and treatment in one of the Russian hospitals to which he is assigned as a labor veteran. (Esenov holds dual Turkmen and Russian citizenship.)

Rahim Esenov was first subject to persecution in the beginning of 2004 (see press-release of the Turkmen Helsinki Foundation from February 27, 2004), when Turkmenistani authorities charged him with smuggling for allegedly bringing into the country his novel about medieval India, Venetsenosnii Skitalets (Hallowed Wanderer). Based on these charges and in accordance with Article 177 of the Turkmen Criminal Code, the authorities accused him of “incitement of social, ethnic and religious hatred.” On February 27, 2004, officials of the special services took R. Esenov, who had suffered a stroke, from the hospital and brought him to the pretrial detention facility of the Ministry of National Security (MNS). When this incident provoked broad outcry abroad, the authorities had to release R. Esenov. Later, eight hundred copies of the book Ventsenosnii Skitalets were confiscated from Esenov and destroyed. Esenov called it an act of vandalism.

Last year Rahim Esenov was forced to sign a written promise not to leave the country. Since then he has appealed to the MNS and the General Prosecutor’s Office several times asking them to lift the ban on his leaving the country. He has received no official answers to any of his letters. However, once in a while special services hold “prophylactic talks” with him.

Rahim Esenov informed the MNS and the General Prosecutor’s Office in advance about his intentions to leave for Moscow on March 3 to seek medical treatment. After that, Esenov was summoned to the MNS by the investigator, Chardjou Sahatmuradov, who had been working on his case before. Sahatmuradov prohibited Esenov to leave Turkmenistan and threatened to reopen his case, since it has been not closed but only suspended.

Last year, Esenov’s son-in-law, Igor Kaprielov, also fell victim of persecution and was sentenced to a five-year suspended term. For a year he has been going to the police station every Saturday to check in.

Rahim Esenov said, “Now doctors are strongly recommending that I undergo extensive medical examinations and treatment in a specialized cardiology ward. Since I was taken straight from the emergency room to prison, all my trust in Turkmenistani doctors has disappeared. Besides, now (after the January announcement about the closure of all regional hospitals – THF note), Ashgabat hospitals discharge their patients after ten days or less, regardless of the state of their health. Plus, treatment costs big money here.”

As a Russian citizen and a veteran, Esenov is entitled to free hospitalization and treatment in one of the best Russian clinics. The ban on his leaving the country violates Esenov’s right to effective and reasonable medical care.

Recently Rahim Esenov was invited to the Russian Embassy in Turkmenistan where he was informed that the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergei Lavrov, handed the Turkmen Ambassador to Russia, Halmurad Agahanov, a note regarding Esenov’s situation.

The Turkmen Helsinki Foundation asks international organizations to pay close attention to continuous persecution of dissidents and persons regarded as such by the Turkmen authorities.

Turkmen Helsinki Foundation,
/Translation by the Open Society Institute’s Turkmenistan Project/

March 31, 2005


Posted by admin on 2005/3/29 18:03:00 (826 reads)

“Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: The U.S. Record 2004 – 2005”

Turkmenistan

The Government of Turkmenistan's human rights record remained extremely poor, and it continued to commit serious abuses. Turkmenistan is a one-party state dominated by President Saparmurat Niyazov, who retains his authoritarian monopoly on political power and on the Democratic Party, which remained the sole legally-recognized political party in the country. Niyazov has been president since independence in 1991 and may legally remain in office until 2010. In August 2003, Niyazov was elected to a life term as Chairman of the People’s Council, giving him a substantial say in the selection of any presidential successor. Government efforts continued to focus on fostering centralized state control and the glorification of the President. The unicameral parliament has no genuinely independent authority; in August 2003, the Peoples’ Council replaced it as the supreme legislative body. Parliamentary elections took place December 19. Foreign observers were not invited to monitor elections and all candidates were pro-government Democracy Party members cleared by authorities. President Niyazov controlled the judicial system. The Government severely restricts freedom of speech and does not permit freedom of the press. There were no domestic human rights groups. Throughout 2004, the Government remained repressive in its response to any perceived threats to the regime. While serious violations of religious freedom continued in Turkmenistan, the Government did make progress from a legislative perspective and with a noticeable reduction in harassment of minority religious congregations.

The United States maintained a three-pronged approach to promoting democracy and human rights. First, the United States urged the Government to respect human rights and advance democracy by raising these issues in high-level bilateral meetings and multilateral institutions, and by iterating its concerns in public statements. Second, the United States regularly advocated on behalf of individual cases of abuse, coordinating closely with other diplomatic missions and international organizations. Third, the United States funded programs designed to strengthen civil society and respect for human rights.

The United States recognized that the primary means of promoting democracy and human rights in Turkmenistan was to address the continued deterioration in the human rights situation after an armed attack on President Niyazov's motorcade on November 25, 2002. There were widespread, credible reports of human rights abuses committed by officials in the course of investigating the attack, including credible reports of torture and detention of suspects’ relatives. During the past year, the United States, through diplomatic efforts at the highest levels, continued to support efforts by the International Committee of the Red Cross to gain access to prisoners detained following that attack. In 2003, the United States and nine other Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) members invoked the "Moscow Mechanism" (for only the second time in the organization's history) which called for a Special Rapporteur on Turkmenistan's human rights abuses after the November 2002 attack. Throughout 2004, the United States consistently and publicly called for follow-through action on the OSCE Rapporteur’s report. In April, the United States and the EU jointly sponsored a resolution at the UN Commission on Human Rights which condemned the Government for human rights abuses and called on the Government to adopt measures called for by the OSCE Rapporteur. In November 2004, the United States and the EU jointly introduced a successful UN General Assembly resolution condemning the Government’s human rights abuses and calling for fact-finding missions by international envoys to investigate reports of torture and abuse. The Government continued to refuse to facilitate such visits. While none of these efforts have so far resulted in accountability for the human rights violations that have occurred, this diplomatic strategy succeeded in keeping very serious human rights issues in the public eye.

In January 2004, the Government formally lifted the exit visa regime imposed in early 2003. The Government took this action in response to notification from the United States in late 2003 that Turkmenistan was risking sanctions for not meeting the freedom of emigration requirements under the Jackson-Vanik Amendment to the Trade Act of 1994. Although the Government maintained a black list of select individuals not permitted to travel, freedom of movement improved. Throughout 2004 the United States continued to monitor the situation to ensure Turkmenistan’s compliance with its international obligations on freedom of movement. In November 2003, the Government enacted draconian laws on public organizations and religious groups that severely curtailed freedom of association and religion by imposing criminal penalties for unregistered activities. These human rights violations were also a focal point for U.S. diplomatic efforts in 2004. In Ashgabat, the U.S. Ambassador, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Commander of the U.S. Central Command and visiting OSCE delegations informed President Niyazov that the improvement of the human rights situation was of the highest priority, and high-level U.S. officials raised their concerns in Washington D.C. After sustained U.S. and international pressure, Turkmenistan removed the legal requirement that minority religions must have a certain number of members in order to obtain registration and dropped criminal penalties against unregistered religious groups and non-govern-mental organizations (NGOs). Four minority religious groups were permitted to register, as were several independent NGOs. Though registered, the religious groups continued to face difficulties in achieving all their rights under the law, and the United States continues to monitor the situation closely. The Government granted amnesty and released six conscientious objectors from prison in 2004. Government officials closed or destroyed at least six mosques.

To implement the second prong of its strategy, the United States raised concerns regarding individual cases of human rights abuse to the Government of Turkmenistan. In 2004, the Embassy coordinated with other diplomatic missions to protest the harassment and detention of a noted author. Upon his return to Turkmenistan, he was detained, his travel documents were seized and his relatives were arrested and accused of committing high crimes against the state. Intervention by the United States contributed to his release, and the cases against his relatives were reviewed. The Embassy consistently monitored and actively advocated on behalf of a reporter for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty who was frequently harassed. In one case, U.S. intervention helped secure his quick release after he was abducted, blindfolded, injected with an unknown substance and threatened with 15 years in prison. The Embassy subsequently persuaded the Government to allow the journalist to depart the country in 2004.

In response to continued harassment of religious minority groups, the U.S. Embassy raised issues of freedom of worship with the Council of Religious Affairs and other responsible bodies within the Government of Turkmenistan. One principle concern was that the Government was hindering some registered religious groups from establishing places of worship. The Government cooperated on hosting a visit to Turkmenistan by a representative of the U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, who encouraged the Government to register additional religious groups and cease harassment.

The U.S. Embassy continued to advocate better treatment of relatives of those implicated in the November 2002 attack, urging the Government of Turkmenistan to cease systematically harassing them. In 2003, the Ambassador sent a letter to the Foreign Minister of Turkmenistan in advance of the annual presidential amnesty, urging the Government to release political prisoner Mukhammet Aimuradov and individuals imprisoned for refusing to perform compulsory military service due to their religious beliefs. The Embassy was a principal point of contact and advocacy for individual cases of abuse. The third prong of the strategy was to fund programs that strengthen civil society. The Government of Turkmenistan was a hesitant partner in civil society programs and educational exchanges; it often used bureaucratic mechanisms to delay or hinder implementation of exchange programs or registration and operations of truly independent NGOs. Nonetheless, in FY 2004, the Embassy awarded 30 Democracy Commission grants focusing on civic education, Internet access, the free flow of information, community self-help and women's and human rights issues. A U.S.-funded civil society development program focused on grassroots community development and advocacy. In FY 2004, 53 capacity-building training events were conducted for more than 1,032 participants under this program. In 2004, the United States gave more than 125 future leaders the opportunity to study and receive training in the United States through exchange programs. One new American Corner (four in total) and two new Internet Access Training Program sites (four in total) were opened in 2004, providing a critical link to the outside world by offering access to nonofficial sources of information. The Embassy also awarded three and four-year scholarships to 17 Turkmen college students to attend the American University of Central Asia in the Kyrgyz Republic. In order to support rule of law, the U.S.-funded program implemented by the American Bar Association’s Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative (ABA/CEELI) provided support to the Legal Resource Center (LRC) at Turkmen State University (TSU). ABA/CEELI also worked with LRC staff to develop strategies to increase its accessibility to the public. Since January 2004, the LRC has organized training programs on Turkmenistan's labor legislation, the development of its criminal legislation, legal guarantees of women's rights and the development of civil legislation. By the end of May, a total of 198 people had participated in the seminars. Between January 1 and the end of May, 4,053 people visited the LRC's facilities.

ABA/CEELI continued to sponsor student participation in moot court competitions. Working with the administration of TSU, ABA/CEELI conducted a modified moot court competition on the national level. In April, 12 students gave oral arguments on a hypothetical case focusing on the International Criminal Court and submitted written briefs. The event provided a much-needed opportunity for Turkmenistan's law students to sharpen their practical legal skills.

ABA/CEELI's Street Law program in Turkmenistan developed over the past year in cooperation with TSU offered young people the opportunity to learn about the law and basic principles of human rights and democracy. Law students involved in the program learned techniques for teaching primary and secondary school students about their rights and responsibilities under Turkmen law. The program’s objective is to sensitize students at a young age to the ways in which the law can help solve critical family, social and political issues. Trainings during the past year covered topics such as children's rights under Turkmen law, the law on delinquency, administrative violations, the right to individuality, the right to marry and the legal status of women. The program was effective at promoting practical skills and legal knowledge among law student participants and providing desperately needed legal information to the population at large.

A civil law clinic in which TSU law students provide legal consultations under the supervision of qualified practicing attorneys began operating in Ashgabat in May 2004. This was the first clinical program in Turkmenistan, and it offers a unique opportunity for students to serve their community and gain practical legal experience. ABA/CEELI staff will provide ongoing training to clinic staff attorneys on managing a student-run clinical program and addressing practical and pedagogical issues surrounding clinical legal education.

The U.S. government-funded civil society development program supported a network of four Civil Society Support Centers (CSSC) that provided training seminars, technical support, information resources, networking opportunities and professional services to NGOs and associations. The United States provided training and resources to strengthen the financial and institutional sustainability of these centers, and also created opportunities to develop new centers. The program included funding to provide institutional grants for leading NGOs in specific sectors and community development grants with a focus on social partnerships to help NGOs engage with their communities and advocate for their needs at the local level. The United States also provided assistance in the development of a comprehensive legal and fiscal framework that will support and strengthen the NGO sector, as well as direct legal support and services for NGOs through the CSSC Network.

In 2004, U.S. funding to combat trafficking in persons (TIP) supported the International Organization for Migration’s work with the State Border Service on a Ministry of Justice-approved program attempting to ascertain the extent and patterns of TIP in Turkmenistan. Funding also supports an anti-trafficking public education campaign and training for the Border Service to combat TIP.

U.S. Department of State
March 28, 2005


Posted by admin on 2005/3/21 15:20:00 (1005 reads)

Text of report by Ukrainian television TV 5 Kanal on 21 March

Turkmen human rights groups are seeking Ukraine's support. The Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation has sent Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko an open letter asking him for help in solving problems related to human rights abuses in that country, the Ukrainian service of Deutsche Welle radio has said.

The Turkmen activists believe that the human rights situation in that country is catastrophic. Almost all political freedoms have been destroyed, and civil society is gradually being wiped out.

[Yushchenko is to pay an official visit to Turkmenistan on 22 March.]

BBC
Original source: TV 5 Kanal, Kiev
March 21, 2005


Posted by admin on 2005/3/18 15:21:00 (1009 reads)

An open letter to the President of Ukraine from Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights



Dear Mr Victor Yushenko,

The human rights organization, the Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation, appeals to you in advance of your forthcoming visit to Turkmenistan.

Since the end of 1990-s, president S. Niyazov has usurped all the power in the country. He illegally declared himself president-for-life, and, currently, he is the head of both the state and the government. The human rights situation in Turkmenistan today is catastrophic. Fundamental freedoms, including those of expression, the media, association and religion do not exist; freedom to participate in political life has been radically denied; persecution of dissidents is accepted without comment. All possible restraints and any counterbalance to the president’s power have been eliminated. There is neither supremacy of law nor transparency of the legal proceedings in the country. Political prisoners, prisoners of conscience and civil society activists who, without fear, spoke out openly demanding the observance of the fundamental rights as set forth in the Constitution, are now held in prison in extremely harsh conditions. The government have been deliberately destroying the educational system in the country, its medical care and civil society.

You are, undoubtedly, aware of the Resolution, adopted by the UN General Assembly on 20 December 2004, condemning the dictatorial regime established in Turkmenistan. Unfortunately, the representatives of the former Ukrainian government at the Assembly abstained from voting when the Resolution on Turkmenistan was adopted.

International human rights organizations consider Turkmenistan as one of the most repressive and isolated countries not only in Central Asia but in the whole world. Recently, a group of non-governmental organizations, concerned with the situation in Turkmenistan, sent their appeal to the 61st Session of the UN Human Rights Commission to appoint a special reporteur on Turkmenistan.

Under the circumstances, the aspiration of a reformed Ukraine to continue co-operation with the dictator looks odd in our opinion, and pursuing the policy of the former government does not correspond to the principles proclaimed by Ukraine after the “orange” revolution.

We appeal to you to work out a new, different, policy towards Turkmenistan, making the democratization of Turkmenistan a key issue. We are urging you to use your visit to Ashgabad as a possibility to openly discuss with the Turkmen government the issues of observance of human rights in the country, the supremacy of law and the democratization of the Turkmen society.

Bear in mind that the money made from the economic agreements with foreign countries, including Ukraine, are not used to improve the welfare of the people of Turkmenistan, but to further escalate the personality cult of Niyazov, persecute people, strengthen the ‘unique’ anti-democratic society, and bring Turkmenistan nearer to a humanitarian catastrophe.

Thank you for your attention to the above issues.

Yours sincerely,

Tadzhigul Begmedova

Chairperson

Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights


Posted by admin on 2004/7/24 15:29:00 (1084 reads)

Halmurad Gylychdurdiyev, a 70 years old inhabitant of Ashgabat, was detained by three officers of the Ministry for National Security (MNS) on 23 June 2004.

Since 2001 he started to openly give interviews to the US Radio Liberty based in Turkmenistan. As a matter of fact, his discussions were not related to politics. However, he did openly criticize the arbitrariness of the Turkmen officials and discussed important cultural and artistic issues. Some days ago Gylychdurdiyev was one of the participants of the ‘round table’ discussions arranged by Radio Liberty, where he was asked:” Are you not afraid of participating in our programmes?”

According to received information, Gylychdurdiyev was summoned to the MNS shortly before his detention. However, there was no signature, no stamp nor surname on the summons. In addition, an MNS officer, introducing himself as Dovletmurad Karayev, repeatedly called him (tel. 39 37 98). Gylychdurdiyev demanded that either the summons be issued properly by the MNS staff or a warrant be submitted from the public prosecutor’s office.

On 22 June Gylychdurdiyev had a cataract operation. The same day several Secret Service officers came to his house and attempted to take him to the MNS. One of the officers gave his name as Berdiev. The officials, however, failed to present the documents confirming their identities. Gylychdurdiyev’s wife, Galina, insisted that Halmurad had to stay in bed after his recent surgery, whereupon one of the officers entered Halmurad’s bedroom to see if she was telling the truth.

The next day Halmurad Gylychmuradov went to the eye hospital to have the bandage removed and a check-up. At 10 a.m., as soon as the procedure was over, the three officers immediately took him to the MNS. This fact was confirmed by his hospital doctor.

We were also informed that the day before Gylychdurdiyev was detained the MNS officer Dovletmurat Karayev called him demanding that he report to their office “for a talk”. In response Gylychdurdiev said:” We have talked already several times. I answered all your questions. Why are you still persecuting me? Leave me alone!”

The officials reportedly demanded that Gylychdurdiyev stop his contact with the Radio Liberty in Turkmenistan.

Yesterday Gylychdurdiyev’s relatives went to the MNS office asking for Halmurad’s release as he needed further treatment. The officers on duty, however, at first denied his detention. Furthermore, these same officers were unable to confirm the names of the MNS officers who had ‘visited’ the Gylychdurdievs and telephoned Halmurad; they could only verify the surname of the officer Berdiev. His first name, as it turned out, was fictitious. The name of Dovletmurad Karayev allegedly was not on the list of the MNS officers at all. The relatives waited in the duty unit of the MNS till late at night when they finally heard from the officer on duty:” The interview is still in progress”. No other explanations were given.

Guluchdurdiev’s wife wants to send a written complaint to the appropriate bodies.

Background information. Halmurad Gylychdurdiyev is a higher education specialist with 40 years of experience in filming gained at the Alty Karliyev film studio. After the film studio was closed down he had to arrange his private film studio. He made several documentary films, including one about Chary Hanamov, the Socialist Labour Hero and some other documentaries about the rural Turkmenistan.

Some years ago Gylychdurdiev made repeated appeals to all banks and appropriate institutions in Turkmenistan asking them to assist in exchanging the local currency for US Dollars - for the films to be shown it was necessary to finish them in one of the Russian film studios. However, “he was not even listened to; he was knocking on a closed door “. Gylychdurdiev appealed to legal bodies against the unlawful refusal of the Turkmen officials.

Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation

24 june 2004


Posted by admin on 2004/7/13 15:29:00 (1205 reads)

Inhabitants of another three streets in Keshi were issued with house demolition orders. As a result, on 12 July, the women from these families also tried to appeal to the UN Representatives. However, THF does not have information whether they have managed to see any of the staff. The same evening some of these women were taken to the police. One man tried to stand up for them, but he was also taken to the police. There has been no information about what happened to the detained people as yet. As witnesses report, the people were forcibly put into the cars, although they strongly objected.

Moreover, in the morning of 12 July, policeman Yazmamedov, together with one of the staff from the department No 6 of the Niyazov district, visited the families who had already been issued the demolition orders and handed them other orders ‘inviting’ them to attend a so-called meeting at 9 p.m. in the district police station. However, only some of the people attended the meeting. According to the witnesses, who were at the police station where the meeting was held, they could hear the people’s voices of indignation and dissatisfaction at the authorities’ behaviour, which has led to a further deterioration in people’s social conditions.

Some of the inhabitants were reportedly issued the orders instructing them to “report to the administration No 6 of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Turkmenistan at 9 a.m. at 34 Asudalyk Street, office No 88”. The people are to report on different dates and, as the orders specifically state, it is mandatory to bring with them their passports.

Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation

13 July 2004


Posted by admin on 2004/7/11 22:16:00 (1454 reads)

In September 2000 Akbibi Hemrayeva (d.o.b. – 29.04.1978) started her employment with the personnel department of the Customs Service of “Turkmenistan Airlines” at Ashgabat International airport. Some time later, due to the forthcoming celebration of the next Independence anniversary, Akbibi got a promotion – she was appointed a senior inspector of the personnel department, and, afterwards, on 28 September 2003 – a senior inspector of the Cargo Transportation department.

Ms A.Hemrayeva reports: “At work I had a reputation as a being an independent minded person and I could not refrain from making comments on the deteriorating situation in Turkmenistan. I took all possible steps not to make an oath of loyalty to president, as, for Turkmens, it is considered to be blasphemous to wish anyone, especially yourself, “let my hand be paralyzed, let my tongue be numb, let my breath stop”. Some of my colleagues blamed me for not being a true patriot of Turkmenistan. Others thought I was insane. At first my superiors threatened me and then, as was there usual practice, accused me of taking bribes. Some of my colleagues stood up for me and even signed some evidence affirming my innocence.

On 25 February 2004 Akbibi Hemrayeva was sacked from her job. On 27 February 2004 the information about her was handed over to the office of public prosecutor and a criminal case was brought against her. Having learnt this fact, Akbibi Hemrayeva left the country on 3 March this year and claimed asylum in Turkey.

Currently the case of Ms Hemrayeva is in the hands of the Ministry of National Security of Turkmenistan. Turkmenistan authorities are accusing her of the following three offences: falsification of documents, bribe-taking, bribe-taking with a group of people. The ‘group of people’ included the employees, who stood up for her (junior technical staff). As a result, they were all sacked from their jobs. Being afraid of the repressions, these people had also to leave the country for Uzbekistan. Ms Hemrayeva believes that she might be at risk of up to 15 years of imprisonment.

Akbibi also told us that after she fled the country, security services started harassing her relatives. They were not allowed to talk on the phone. MNB agents as well as the staff of the public prosecutor’s office came to see her six brothers and their families daily and put them under psychological pressure. They are threatening at least to sack them. They insist that unless Ms A.Hemrayeva returned by the beginning of June, she would be on the list of ‘wanted’ people.

We hope that the Turkish authorities to whom Ms Hemrayeva appealed for protection are informed that Turkmenistan is ‘well-known’ for its egregious human rights violations, lack of transparent legal proceedings, convictions of innocent people and use of increasingly brutal and inventive means of torture. It is also well-known that Turkmenistan authorities are intolerant to any dissent and fabricate cases in order to persecute critically minded people.

Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation

11 june 2004


Posted by admin on 2004/6/3 22:17:00 (1120 reads)

Statement of the Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights to the Secretary General of the United Nations

M ay 31, 2004

Dear Mr. Secretary General,

We would like to bring to your attention the following statement regarding the consideration and adoption during the 60th session of the Commission on Human Rights of the resolution entitled “The Situation of Human Rights in Turkmenistan” and the official response to it from the Turkmenistan government.

The Human Rights Commission resolution and the response to it from the Turkmen Foreign Ministry are based on completely opposite premises. The United Nations regards as of paramount importance human rights violations, which are regularly reported by Turkmen citizens who have suffered from them. Meanwhile, the Turkmen Foreign Ministry selectively pulls out from international reports on the situation parts where it shows that Turkmenistan is on the road to democracy and is willing to adopt democratic measures of its own. Yet, the Turkmen side has not reacted at all to the concerns of the international community and human rights organizations which are constantly ringing bells of alarm about the violations of human rights in Turkmenistan. Turkmenistan has not once deigned to respond to numerous cases of violations against freedom of conscience, unlawful detention, and persecution against religious groups and relatives of the convicted.

The Foreign Ministry complains about the absence in the resolution of concrete facts of human rights abuses in Turkmenistan. We are disappointed that this organization does not contact human rights organizations that systematically carry out human rights monitoring. Since the standard procedure, evidently, did not allow the Commission to describe in greater detail all known cases of human rights violations in Turkmenistan, the Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation listed its own short account of just a few of them.

On the abolishment of the death penalty

Undoubtedly, the abolishment of the death penalty is a positive step of Turkmenistan. However, the agonizing conditions of Turkmen prisoners in and of themselves lead to death, as is the case with Hoshgeldi Garaev and Hayit Kakaev. Turkmenistan did not confirm nor deny the deaths of Khallyiev T. and Yklymov A.

On political prisoners and prisoners of conscience:

Up until now, citizens who are believed to be political prisoners or prisoners of conscience have been serving sentences. Among them include Aimuradov M., Atakov, S, Babadzhanov R, Zakirov R, Matveev A, Mitogorov S, Nazyrov R, Satlyikov R, Shelekhov N. The Turkmen government has not responded to any appeals from human rights organization for these people. Only as a result of enormous international pressure was prisoner of conscience Farid Tukhbatulin released.

On free speech

There are no possibilities for impartial journalists to work in Turkmenistan. Journalists S.Ovezberdyiev, M. Berdyiev, S. Berdyiev were repeatedly subjected to persecution and beatings. Others who were subject to persecution include R. Esenov, A. Bairiev, as well as the son-in-law of R. Esenov, I. Kaprielov. Resident of Nebit-Dag G. Durdyikuliev, sentenced for conducting a peaceful demonstration, was violently thrown in a psychiatric hospital. Accredited independent foreign journalists are absent.

On prison conditions

Human rights organizations give thorough examples of inhumane treatment of detainees, prisoners. Yet the Turkmen authorities do not consider it necessary to end abuses of these people.

Thousands of people suffer from the Turkmen government’s wanton practice of persecuting relatives of the suspected and convicted criminals. The mass arrests following the alleged assassination attempt against President Niyazov is a case in point. (Examples of these well known arrests were contained in the report compiled by OSCE Special Rapporteur Emmanuel Decaux). Turkmenistan refused to discuss any of the convictions connected with November 25 incident and members of the family subjected to torture and psychotropic means were also fundamental issues contained in Decaux’s report.

Regarding the ban on arbitrary search in homes

This ban remained only on paper. Despite the fact that the Constitution of Turkmenistan declares that “no one has the right to enter into homes… against the will of the resident,” we have many cases of intrusion by government officials, with the purpose of searching the apartments of citizens. State officials harshly and cynically insulted, beat up and threatened citizens; searches were conducted in violation of the law.

On amnesties

Not one political prisoner, prisoner of conscience or individual convicted of fabricated charges was on the list of pardons.

On opposition and political parties

In Turkmenistan only one political party exists. The Turkmen opposition must operate in exile. Persecution of individuals declaring themselves part of the opposition or wishing to form their own party is never ending. In an interview with Izvestia newspaper, Martti Ahtisaari said: “nothing and no one should interfere with what the opposition wishes to do. Unfortunately, at present it is an authoritarian regime. Lots of work lies ahead for the OSCE.”

NGOs and Religions

The human rights groups Turkmenistan Helsinki Initiative and Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation must operate in exile. Not only representatives of international human rights organizations, but also members of the Turkmenistan human rights groups are completely deprived of the possibility of working inside the country. In November 2003, the “Dashoguz Ecological Club” was closed by the decision of the city court. In April 2004, the Justice Ministry notified the “Catena Ecological Club” that its registration was rejected.

Up until now, groundless limitations on religious activities have not been revoked, including the complicated registration procedures, a ban on conducting religious meetings, participation in unregistered religious groups, and so on. Persecution and detention of pious citizens continue. Twelve people were fined by the Nebit-Dag city police. Not a single religious community after the relaxing of registration rules has been able to register. And even the Protestant church “Great Grace,” located in the capital Ashgabat, which had applied to register three weeks from the time of the easing of the rules, has so far not received a response to its request.

Freedom of movement

Turkmenistan did not confirm or deny an existence of “black lists” with the names of thousands of citizens who have been deprived to move freely. S. Begmedov has been persecuted and exiled twice from Ashgabat to Dashoguz. International human rights observers and journalists still can not get entry visas.

Regarding Willingness to Collaborate

Turkmenistan does not observe international human rights obligations it has ratified at the United Nations and as a member state of the OSCE. In light of the growing human rights crisis after the November 25 incident, ten OSCE member states authorized Emmanuel Decaux to elucidate a number of disturbing questions regarding the investigation following the alleged assassination attempt on President Niyazov. Turkmen authorities refused to cooperate with the OSCE and did not allow the rapporteur and members of the commission into the country. Moreover, the OSCE representative expressed his displeasure that Turkmenistan did not appoint an expert of its own.

The OSCE Chairman in Office’s Envoy for Central Asia, Martti Ahtisaari remained upset with the human rights situation in Turkmenistan.

At the meeting with other high level representatives and delegations of international organizations, as well as with Solomon Passy April 8-9, 2004, not one word was mentioned about the human rights violations in Turkmenistan. Nor was anything said about the necessity of reforms to correct the situation, the willingness of Turkmenistan to implement the UN and OSCE resolutions, the position of the Turkmen government regarding the necessity of political transparency and independent mass media, and the realistic steps needed to make the Turkmen leadership improve the atmosphere for registration and ensure unimpeded NGO activity in the country.

Currently the Turkmen government has not demonstrated the political will to the existing recommendations made by the international community.

We would be grateful to you for the distribution of this statement as a document under Agenda Item 117 (c) at the General Assembly.

Sincerely,

Tadjigul Begmedova

Representative of the Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights

03 june 2004


Posted by admin on 2004/5/14 22:19:00 (1248 reads)

To the Ambassador of Ashkabat

Through the US Embassy in Ankara

Your Excellency,

We would like your assistance as the ambassador of a country, which protects democracy and human rights in the world.

My name is Nazar Bayhanov, who was born in 1964 and who is a national of Turkmenistan. I currently reside in Ashkabat. I would like to draw your attention to the present human rights violations in Turkmenistan, to painful realities currently experienced in prisons in Turkmenistan and to arbitrary arrests. My elder brother Akmuhammet Bayramovich Bayhanov was arrested on June 18, 2003 and although totally innocent, he was sentenced to five years in prison in line with the 120/1 article of the Turkmenistan Criminal Code at a closed trial on September 13, 2003. Akmuhammet Bayhanov is currently held at the 12th prison in the Turkmen town of Seydi in Lebap province since his transfer in February 2004. Although the detention center is not a closed prison, officials do not allow us to meet my brother Akmuhammet Bayhanov for a very long time. They said that the reason for not allowing us to visit my brother was that Akmuhammet Bayhanov was twice locked up in a cell. When he was in the cell for the second time, Akmuhammet Bayhanov was subjected to torture and as a result, his spine was damaged.

All ill treatment including torture, solitary confinement, beatings, threats and belittling acts, which my brother Akmuhammet Bayhanov is subjected to, is done at the personal orders of Turkmenistan’s president Niyazov. The reason is in fact the assistance sought by the relatives of Akmuhammet Bayhanov from international human rights organizations to correct the injustices done to Akmuhammet Bayhanov. I was warned or rather threatened by officials of Turkmenistan’s National Security Ministry on December 18, 2003 that if I informed the world public opinion and international organizations of the human rights violations against Akmuhammet Bayhanov, his situation would worsen. The current developments reveal that they translate into life their threats.

My younger brother Dowlet Bayhanov asked the help of all international human rights organizations through the Freedom Radio in the beginning of April. Following this, our brother Akmuhammet Bayhanov has started to be treated even worse.

I know that not only my brother Akmuhammet Bayhanov but also other prisoners at Turkmen detention centers are subjected to ill treatment and I can personally inform the pertinent international organizations of these conducts.

I urge you not to misunderstand my application to you. I only ask your help regarding my brother Akmuhammet Bayhanov, who was arrested although he was innocent and who is experiencing a grave situation in the prison. We totally believe that you will be of help in our struggle at international platforms to prove Akmuhammet Bayhanov’s innocence.

Yours sincerely,

Nazar Bayhanov, telephone number : +99 312 48 89 88 / 48 89 80 Ashkabat, Turkmenistan

Dowlet Bayhanov, telephone number : +90 312 490 87 26 (home) +90 535 567 35 72 (mobile)

14 May 2004


Posted by admin on 2003/8/20 22:20:00 (1268 reads)

The Bulgaria-based branch of the Turkmen Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights held its first session in Sofia on Tuesday.

The branch comprises 16 people including "nine Turkmens, some of whom live in Turkmenistan. For safety reasons, we cannot disclose their names. They act under pseudonyms," Turkmen Helsinki Foundation Chairman Kadzhigul Bekmetova told the Kommersant newspaper in an interview published on Wednesday.

"Our objective is to protect human rights in Turkmenistan. We will brief the world community on developments there and accumulate facts. The world should know the real picture," Bekmetova noted.

Efforts have been made to compile lists of "Turkmen political prisoners and their relatives who are being severely persecuted," she noted.

"Since Boris Shikhmuradov was thrown in jail, Turkmen authorities have ignored all queries about his health and he has been denied a meeting with his lawyer. We do not know what is happening to him," she said.

"It's time to drastically change the situation. The state of affairs in Turkmenistan is no secret to anyone. There is only one party there, no other media but the state-owned ones that misrepresent everything, and the law enforcement and judicial agencies that are the worst violators of human rights," she said.

Interfax News Agency
August 20, 2003


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