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