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.
Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights