New information TKM 001 / 0806 / OBS 103.2 Arbitrary detentions / Harassment Turkmenistan October 31, 2006
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Turkmenistan.
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources of constant acts of harassment against the family of Mrs. Ogulsapar Muradova, a Turkmen correspondent of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE / RL) and a former member of the Turkmen Helsinki Foundation (THF), whose death in detention was made public on September 14, 2006.
According to the information received, Mrs. Muradova’s children have been subjected to constant pressure from the authorities since September 14, 2006. For instance, police officers tried to deter them to attend their mother’s funeral, and put them under permanent and close surveillance at their home. They cannot have any external contact allowed, and their phone lines have been cut.
In view of these elements, the Observatory expresses its deepest concern regarding the safety and psychological integrity of Mrs. Muradova’s children, and urges the highest Turkmen authorities to guarantee their security and the respect of their freedoms of expression and movement, in all circumstances.
Besides, the Observatory reiterates its fear for the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Annakurban Amanklychev, an independent journalist, and Mr. Sapardurdy Khajiev, a human rights activist, both members of the THF, who were both sentenced along with Mrs. Muradova (See background information).
On August 25, 2006, the Azatlyk District Court of Ashgabat respectively condemned Mrs. Muradova and Mr. Amanklychev to a six-year and seven-year prison terms, while Mr. Khajiev was sentenced to a seven-year term in a high-security prison. All three were sentenced for “illegally possessing ammunitions” (article 287-2 of the Criminal Code), on the basis that police officers would have found some arms in Mr. Amanklychev’s car. The three defendants decided to appeal this verdict on August 29 and 30, 2006.
The trial took place in camera. Indeed, the lawyers were denied access to Court, as they were kicked out by soldiers just before the hearing, while trying to meet their clients. As a consequence, only the Prosecutor and the defendants were allowed to attend the hearing, which lasted just a few minutes. Moreover, the Court building and the streets leading to it were cordoned off by armed soldiers, preventing the defendants’ relatives and supporters from coming in.
Mr. Amanklychev had been arrested on June 16, 2006 by police officers, when he was working on a documentary with two French production companies, dealing with the deterioration of the health and education systems in Turkmenistan, and the personality cult of the President of the Republic. Mr. Khajiev and Mrs. Muradova were arrested on June 18, 2006, at their homes. They all remained detained incommunicado in a National Security Service pre-trial detention centre for more than two months, during which they were reportedly subjected to ill treatments. Besides, they were never notified about the charges against them, nor their lawyers, and were not allowed to meet them.
On June 19, 2006, the highest authorities’ representatives, such as the President of the Republic and the National Security Minister, publicly accused the three defendants of having conspired with foreigners in order to destabilise the State.
On September 14, 2006, relatives of Mrs. Ogulsapar Muradova were informed of her death and taken to an unknown place, which they finally found to be the Ashgabat morgue, where they were asked to identify her body.
As they found wounds on her neck and head, and several other marks of violence on her body, Mrs. Muradova’s relatives were told that she was dead from natural causes, whereas the circumstances of her death remain unclear. In this regard, the Observatory recalls that there is still no information on the place where she was detained since her arrest.
Please write to the Turkmen authorities urging them to :
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mrs. Muradova’s family members, as well as of Messrs. Annakurban Amanklychev and Sapardurdy Khajiev;
ii. Conduct an immediate and independent investigation into Mrs. Muradova’s death in order to identify those responsible, bring them to justice and sentence them according to law;
iii. Guarantee that adequate reparation is provided to Mrs. Muradova’s families;
iv. Ensure that the rights of Messrs. Amanklychev and Khajiev to a fair and impartial trial on appeal will be guaranteed in any circumstances;
v. Put an immediate end to any kind of reprisals, including judicial harassment, against all human rights defenders ;
vi. Conform with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or in association with others, to promote the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, article 6a), which provides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms”, as well as article 12.2, providing for the State to “take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of their rights”;
vii. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with regional and international human rights standards, in particular OSCE commitments regarding freedom of the media, recognised by Turkmenistan.
- Mr. Saparmyrat Niyazov, President of the Republic, Zdaniye Pravitel’stra, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, Fax: + 00 99 312 35 51 12 / 51 17 55 / 51 14 30
- Mr. Rashit Ovezgeldiyevich Meredov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan, Turkmenistan; 744000 g. Ashgabat; pr. Magtymguly, 83; Ministerstvo inostrannykh del Turkmenistana; Fax: + 00 99 312 35 42 41 / 39 28 50, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ambassador Mr. Kakadjan Mommadov, Diplomatic Mission of Turkmenistan in Brussels, 4 rue Montoyer, 1000 Brussels, Belgium, Tel: + 32 2 513 28 36, Fax: + 32 2 511 04 50
Please also write to diplomatic representations of the Republic of Turkmenistan in your respective countries.