Turkmenistan’s beleaguered human rights movement managed to get its voice heard at an NGO event in the Kazak capital Astana ahead of a summit of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, OSCE.
The alternative event began on November 29, and produced a set of recommendations for the OSCE, which Kazakstan is chairing this year. Turkmenistan was represented by Vyacheslav Mamedov, leader of the Turkmen Civil Democratic Union based, like other groups from the country, in the diaspora. NGOs from Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan each sent ten people to the event, while Tajikistan managed five.
Other Turkmen activists were unable to make it, accusing the government of Kazakstan as well as Turkmenistan of obstructing them. They did however publish a collective open letter describing the dire state of affairs in the country and raising concerns about political prisoners.
They faced similar problems at a preliminary review conference which the OSCE held in Warsaw in October 2010. (See Turkmenistan Tries to Bar Rights Activists From OSCE Event.) Participants in the alternative conference accused the OSCE of failing to live up to the human rights standards it set itself, notably in the Central Asian states. As Mamedov put it, when the OSCE allowed these five countries to join, it should have brought change to them. That has not happened, and it is the OSCE that has changed for the worse.
This article was produced as part of IWPR’s News Briefing Central Asia output, funded by the National Endowment for Democracy.