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Posted by admin on 2013/2/16 15:30:00 (1668 reads)


Two Turkmen activists Annakurban Amanklychev and Sapardurdy Khadzhiev have been released from prison in Turkmenistan today (February 16, 2013) after serving their full prison terms. Amanklychev and Khadjiyev were sentenced to seven years in prison for helping to make a documentary about Turkmenistan in 2006 for “Envoyé spécial,” a current affairs programme broadcast by the French state-owned TV station France 2, and for gathering information about the human rights situation for the Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation. Initially, the government accused them of spying for Western intelligence services. Later, the charges were changed to "illegal acquisition, possession or sale of firearms or ammunition."

A third person who was convicted at the same time, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty correspondent in Turkmenistan Ogulsapar Muradova, died in detention in September 2006 after being tortured.
International human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, have repeatedly called on the Turkmen government to release Amanklychev and Khadjiyev and to conduct open investigation into the case of Muradova’s death in detention.

In 2010, The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention called for the immediate release of Amanklychev and Khajiev, claiming that their detention is a violation of international law.

In 2011, Amnesty International called Amanklychev A. and S. Khadziyev prisoners of conscience.

Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights
February 16, 2013

Posted by admin on 2013/1/22 10:41:10 (1720 reads)

One of the world’s most repressive states promises all sorts of freedom.

Turkmenistan has passed its first media law since it separated from the Soviet Union in 1991, and on paper it looks great, with commitments to freedom of expression and an end to censorship.

In this tightly controlled Central Asian state, though, there is really very little prospect of change. The government-run media will carry on being as heavily censored as they have been for the last two decades.

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Posted by admin on 2012/11/7 10:33:00 (1669 reads)

The European Parliament faces a litmus test of its commitment to a principled EU policy on human rights. At issue is whether it will support upgraded relations with Turkmenistan, ruled by one of the most repressive governments in the world, without requiring any rights improvements in exchange.

When it votes on a partnership and co-operation agreement with Turkmenistan, the European Parliament should do what member states have not done – consider human rights.

The European Parliament faces a litmus test of its commitment to a principled EU policy on human rights. At issue is whether it will support upgraded relations with Turkmenistan, ruled by one of the most repressive governments in the world, without requiring any rights improvements in exchange.

The test will be an upcoming vote – possibly as soon as November – on a partnership and co-operation agreement (PCA) with Turkmenistan. The parliament should reject such an obviously misguided move, and send a clear message that enhanced relations with the European Union must go hand in hand with concrete improvements in human rights.

This is a message the European External Action Service (EEAS), the European Commission, and member states – eager to pursue closer relations with gas-rich Turkmenistan – have consistently failed to send. The EU's long-standing quest to upgrade relations with Turkmenistan has paid scant attention to human rights, even though Turkmenistan's atrocious rights record could not be more at odds with the PCA's human-rights clause. The clause commits both parties to respect human rights, and provides the possibility of suspension should either violate this principle.

If taken seriously, this clause would mean that, in the absence of improvements by Turkmenistan, the EU would have to initiate proceedings to suspend the agreement as soon as it was concluded. By ignoring this reality and failing to use the lead-up process to upgraded relations to secure even the most minimal progress in rights, the EEAS, the Commission, and member states have squandered precious time and leverage.

The Parliament now has a crucial opportunity to set things right. To do so, it needs to look no further than its own reform demands, as formulated in 2008 and re-affirmed in 2010 – basic steps such as releasing political prisoners, lifting travel bans on activists and their relatives, and allowing independent human-rights monitors into the country, which it set as prerequisites for closer relations with Turkmenistan.

To date, none of the Parliament's benchmarks have been met. Hundreds – possibly thousands – of political prisoners languish in Turkmenistan's prisons, including Annakurban Amanklychev and Sapardurdy Khajiev, who worked with human-rights organisations before their imprisonment in 2006, and Gulgeldy Annaniazov, a political dissident whose relatives have had no information about him since his imprisonment in 2008.

The government interferes with residents' right to leave and return to Turkmenistan, through an informal, arbitrary system of travel bans on activists, their families, and relatives of exiled dissidents. The country remains utterly closed to human-rights scrutiny due to the government's long-standing denial of access for independent human-rights monitors, including no fewer than ten UN rapporteurs, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and non-governmental organisations.

The Parliament should make its consent to the PCA contingent on measurable progress in these key areas of concern, and insist on a serious effort by the EEAS, the Commission, and member states to press for such progress. Of course, there is much more than human rights to the EU's relationship with Turkmenistan. But strategic interests such as energy security are no justification for overlooking human rights, and articulating concrete expectations for rights reform should not be seen as an impediment to good relations.

For the Parliament to vote in favour of a PCA with Turkmenistan in the current circumstances would mean succumbing to the same political expediency that has led the EU to ignore human-rights abuses in its relationship with this country for so long. The Parliament should make a clean break from this sorry record, and ensure an EU policy true to the core values and principles that underpin its relations with third countries.

Hanging in the balance are the many victims of Turkmen government repression, including Amanklychev, Khajiev and Annaniazov, who should be able to count on the EU's unwavering support for their rights and freedoms.

Veronika Szente Goldston is the Europe and Central Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch.

Posted by admin on 2012/8/8 8:11:00 (2217 reads)

Turkmenistan is building a new women’s prison which it may be able to use to showcase improvements in penal conditions that will not be evident elsewhere.

The facility is being put up by a Turkish contractor close to an existing women’s prison located 100 kilometres from Dashoguz in northeastern Turkmenistan.

The new prison will contain a cellblock, a clothing factory where inmates will work, a kindergarten and school for their children, and even a shop.

If this is accurate, the new facility will be an improvement on the current women’s prison camp at Dashoguz, built by the Soviet authorities in 1967.

The Independent Bar Association of Turkmenistan based in the Netherlands says the camp was designed to house 700 inmates but now holds more than 2,000, with 12 or 14 to rooms meant for four.

Eight out of ten of the female inmates are there for drugs convictions, although others were locked up simply for being relatives of disgraced government officials.

Rights groups report that inmates are abused and tuberculosis is rife in the facility.

Vyacheslav Mamedov, leader of the Netherlands-based Civil Democratic Union, says the replacement prison looks like an attempt to repair Turkmenistan’s appalling reputation for prison conditions.

"It seems the prison will become a showcase for the Turkmen penal system – somewhere international inspections could be allowed to take place," Mamedov said. "The international community has long criticised the authorities for the disorder in the prison system, which remains closed to the outside world and is characterised by torture and brutality."

Turkmenistan has a high prison population by any standards – 550 people per 100,000 of the population, twice as many as Kyrgyzstan, for example.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a police officer in Turkmenistan said

"Lack of space means our penal institutions hold 250 per cent more convicts than they should,” he said. “This causes disease to spread. So the country needs to modernise its prison camp buildings as a priority».

This article was produced as part of News Briefing Central Asia output, funded by the National Endowment for Democracy.


Posted by admin on 2012/7/1 9:28:00 (2490 reads)

Turkmen National Security Ministry, Ashgabat. (Photo: IWPR)1The Soviet-era practice of holding show trials for individuals accused of relatively minor economic crimes is alive and well in Turkmenistan, and local observers say that once in the system, defendants have no chance of a fair hearing. For the state, it is a demonstration of power, and for the security agencies, an opportunity to show they are fighting crime.

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Posted by admin on 2012/5/26 7:53:00 (2358 reads)

by Maran Turner and Craig Lewis

This election year, Americans are reminded and fatigued at how the campaign season drives rifts between various groups in the country. Wouldn’t you love instead to live in a nation where the President is so universally beloved, he is elected with a 97 percent majority? How about a country that celebrates an annual “Week of Happiness” to foster good health and high spirits? So would the people of Turkmenistan, whose government boasts these “facts.”

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Posted by admin on 2012/5/3 17:12:00 (2355 reads)

Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov’s talk of reform since he came to power in 2006 only serves to make the gap between words and reality even wider in one of the world’s most absolute and brutal dictatorships.

“Re-elected” this year with 97% of the votes cast, he said he favoured a multiparty system and privately-owned media. The one-party system has been abolished and replaced by two new parties … created by the government. There is little chance that government opponents in exile will dare to return home.

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Posted by admin on 2012/5/2 14:00:00 (2326 reads)

Free The Press: Supporting Journalists Under Duress

As World Press Freedom Day approaches on May 3, journalists are being silenced around the world. In too many places, journalists are imprisoned, attacked, intimidated, murdered or disappeared for trying to report the news or exercise freedom of expression.

In the coming days, the U.S. Department of State will highlight emblematic cases of these threats to journalists and continue to call on all governments to protect the universal human right to freedom of expression.

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Posted by admin on 2012/3/31 8:13:00 (3441 reads)

by Serdar Aytakov

There’s a Stalinist-era anecdote that can apply to Turkmenistan today. The story goes that during the collectivization drive in the 1930s, an apparatchik in the Far East sent a telegram to his superiors: “The collective farms have been created; dispatch the collective farmers.”

Such a cart-before-horse tendency is seen in Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov’s effort to conjure a competitive political system. Turkmenistan, of course, is ranked by numerous watchdog groups as one of the world’s most repressive states. But lately Berdymukhamedov has sought to change Turkmenistan’s image by pledging to establish new political parties. To show the world he means what he says, state-controlled media carried reports on March 26 that government officials are hard at work laying the foundations for two economic-sector-specific political parties – one to represent farmers, the other entrepreneurs.

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Posted by admin on 2012/3/31 8:11:00 (930 reads)

The government of Turkmenistan has defended its rights record before the United Nations Human Rights Committee in New York, asserting that journalists are able to report on any topic they like and that everyone is free to participate in political life.

Commentors in Turkmenistan say the government’s account is fictitious and the Central Asian state remains as repressive as ever.

Turkmen officials told the UN committee, meeting on March 15-16 that torture did not exist in their country and that judges were independent.

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