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TURKMENISTAN: Year in Brief 2005 - A Chronology of key events

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

ASHGABAT, 16 Jan 2006 (IRIN) - 5 January - Efforts to curtail religious freedom in the reclusive oil-rich state of Turkmenistan continue, with at least seven mosques demolished in 2004 alone, activists said on Wednesday. "By destroying mosques - as well as a Christian church and Hare Krishna temples, as was done in the past -the Turkmen government is demonstrating its contempt for the rights of believers of different faiths to maintain their own places of worship where they can pray freely in the way they wish to," Felix Corley, editor of Forum 18 News Service, an agency covering religious freedom in the former Soviet republics and Eastern Europe, noted from London.

3 May - A new report by Amnesty International (AI) has strongly criticised the government of Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov for failing to adequately address the ongoing issue of human rights. "The report documents that the human rights situation in Turkmenistan remains appalling," Anna Sunder-Plassman, a researcher for the watchdog group, told IRIN on Tuesday from London.

9 June - A recent report on healthcare and human rights in Turkmenistan, published by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, highlights a deteriorating situation in the former Soviet republic. The report urges the international community to put pressure on Ashgabat to institute immediate reforms. "The current situation in Turkmenistan's healthcare system is very serious and in recent years, the healthcare system has been systematically dismantled. Since independence, state funding for healthcare has significantly decreased," Bernd Rechel, one of the authors of the report, told IRIN from London on Thursday.

2 August - Drug addiction is on the rise, fuelled by the government's neglect of socioeconomic issues, a Turkmen rights group charged on Tuesday. "Drug addiction is on the rise based on our recent informal survey of residents in the capital and other parts of the country," Tajigul Begmedova, head of the Turkmen Helsinki Foundation (THF), said from the Bulgarian resort city of Varna where the rights NGO is based. Official statistics on the number of drug addicts were not accessible and moreover they could not reflect the real situation, the rights activist maintained.

1 September - Rights activists living outside Turkmenistan say the Turkmen government has been intimidating their relatives and friends in Turkmenistan because of their own efforts from abroad to highlight the desert nation's poor human rights record. "There has been systematic pressure on us since we established the Turkmen Helsinki Foundation [THF] in 2003," Tajigul Begmedova, head of THF, said on Thursday from the Bulgarian resort city of Varna where the rights group is based. According to Begmedova, the Turkmen authorities have been harassing her relatives, who still live in her homeland, since THF was first established.

29 September - Turkmenistan continues to deny its citizens the right to religious freedom, despite longstanding international pressure to reform. "Turkmenistan's government still refuses to allow residents of the country to practice their faith freely," Felix Corley, the editor of Forum 18 News Service, an agency monitoring religious freedom in the former Soviet republics and Eastern Europe, said from London on Thursday.His comments came one day after a coalition of 10 human rights and advocacy organisations, including Human Rights Watch (HRW), called on Washington to designate the former Soviet republic as a "country of particular concern" under US law for severe violation of religious freedom.

30 November - The International Narcotics Board (INCB) has called on Turkmenistan to fully comply with its obligations under a number of international drug conventions to which it is a party. "There has been an improvement, but it is far from satisfactory," Beate Hammond, an INCB drug control officer, said from their headquarters in Vienna on Tuesday. Sharing over 700 km of common border with Afghanistan - the largest producer of illicit opium in the world today - those efforts were simply not enough, Hammond stressed, prompting the independent UN body monitoring global proliferation to call for more action.

 Theme(s) Democracy
Other recent TURKMENISTAN reports:

Interview with United Nations Resident Representative,  15/Feb/06

Pension cuts begin to bite,  6/Feb/06

UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief seeks visit,  30/Jan/06

Year in Review 2005 - All Turkmenbashi all the time,  10/Jan/06

INCB calls for greater drug control compliance,  30/Nov/05

Other recent Democracy & Governance reports:

ZIMBABWE: Mugabe delivers broadside to neighbours, 21/Feb/06

SYRIA: US funding offer for NGOs draws mixed reactions, 21/Feb/06

UGANDA: Official campaigns end two days before polls, 21/Feb/06

SOUTH AFRICA: Govt adopts more focused approach to help orphans, 21/Feb/06

ANGOLA: Ready to play larger security role in Africa, 21/Feb/06

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