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.
Annagurban Amanklychev and Sapardurdy Khadjiyev, Turkmenistan Imprisoned Since 2006. Annagurban Amanklychev and Sapardurdy Khadjiyev are Turkmen human rights activists and media assistants who were sentenced to seven years in prison on weapons possession charges.
At the time of their arrests, Amankylchev and Khadjiyev were working with the Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation, an organization drawing attention to human rights abuses taking place in Turkmenistan. They were arrested with Khadjiyev’s sister, Ogulsapar Myradowa, a reporter for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, who died after only a few weeks in detention. All three were reportedly subject to torture; Khadjiyev and Amanklychev suffer abhorrent prison conditions.
The two men were reportedly working as assistants to a French film crew in the production of a documentary exploring then-President Niyazov’s authoritarian rule, and Turkmenistan’s failing educational and health systems.
Amanklychev and Khadjiyev are understood to be in the Turkmenbashi high-security detention center in the desert near the Caspian Sea. Credible reports indicate that they have been subject to forced injections, extreme heat, hunger, and thirst, and torture. Access to the prisoners has been limited.
We call on the Government of Turkmenistan to take heed of the recommendations of expert bodies and the international community with regards to this case, including the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the OSCE, ODHIR, and the Helsinki Foundation, and release Annakurban Amanklychev and Sapardurdy Khajiev. Further, we call on the government to allow the ICRC into the prison system, and to respect all citizens’ fundamental freedom of expression.