"); NewWindow.document.close(); return false; } // end hiding from old browsers -->

IRIN Asia | Asia | TURKMENISTAN | TURKMENISTAN: Ashgabat intimidating those linked with exiled activists say rights NGOs | Peace Security | News Items
Tuesday 27 December 2005
Country Profile
Latest News
Democracy & Governance
Early warning
Food Security
Gender Issues
Health & Nutrition
Human Rights
Natural Disasters
Peace & Security
RSS Feed
By Countries & Regions
Africa Service
Asia Service
Iraq Service
PlusNews Service
Service Français
IRIN Films
Web Specials

TURKMENISTAN: Ashgabat intimidating those linked with exiled activists say rights NGOs

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


ANKARA, 1 Sep 2005 (IRIN) - 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.

"My father was beaten by the police and sent into internal exile in the north of the country," Begmedova said. "He has heart problems and he needs to go to [the capital] Ashgabat for treatment but the authorities won't allow him to do that. Moreover, he contracted tuberculosis but they are not doing anything for his treatment," she alleged. She also claimed that her sister had been incarcerated on trumped-up charges and is now serving an eight-year prison sentence.

"She is kept under harsh conditions and the prison administration's attitude towards her is much worse compared to other convicts simply because she is my relative," she explained.

Begmedova is not the only activist to make such claims. Pressure on dissenters and their associates or families has long been a common factor in Turkmenistan according to Farid Tukhbatulin. He heads the Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights, another Turkmen rights group.

"If the authorities cannot get those who are abroad then their families and relatives who live in the country are harassed," said Tukhbatulin, speaking from Vienna. He added that his brother had been sacked from his job earlier this year. "He was fired because of my rights work although he had nothing to do with my activities and is in no way involved in my work."

Begmedova said that the authorities have even harassed her school friends, university fellows, former friends and colleagues, who were not necessarily even aware of her human rights work.

"They have also been summoned to the police for 'discussions', which makes their lives uncomfortable," she said.

Tukhbatulin explained that there is always an essential conflict between the Turkmen authorities and activists such as himself.

"Turkmenistan is such a reclusive country that they [the authorities] are afraid of any leakage of negative information [about the country] and try to block such leaks, while we, as rights activists, do our best to inform the international community about the reality of our country," he said.

Meanwhile, the US-based watchdog Amnesty International (AI) expressed serious concerns on Thursday about attempts by the Turkmen authorities to stop THF from carrying out its human rights work.

"The targeting of the THF is part of a larger pattern of intimidation by the authorities against civil society activists, their relatives and, more generally, of the clampdown on dissent," AI said.

AI has documented cases where family members of dissidents, including those dissidents living in exile, have been summoned before the country's security bodies, dismissed from their jobs or threatened with confiscation of their property.

Tukhbatulin urged the international community, including the UN and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), to establish a special rapporteur on Turkmenistan to boost the work of protecting human rights in the country while putting pressure on the government to institute reforms.


 Theme(s) Peace Security
Other recent TURKMENISTAN reports:

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

Activists flay US report on religious freedom,  17/Nov/05

No progress on religious freedom,  29/Sep/05

Prostitution on the rise,  5/Sep/05

Focus on ethnic minorities,  18/Aug/05

Other recent Peace Security reports:

AFGHANISTAN: Roadside bomb wounds two NATO peacekeepers in north, 27/Dec/05

CHAD-SUDAN: President Deby, Sudanese envoy meet with AU head Obasanjo, 27/Dec/05

IRAQ-MIDDLE EAST: Street children face hunger and abuse, 26/Dec/05

NEPAL: UN welcomes Maoist statement on aid and development, 23/Dec/05

ERITREA-ETHIOPIA: Border tense despite troop pullouts, says UN, 23/Dec/05

[Back] [Home Page]

Click here to send any feedback, comments or questions you have about IRIN's Website or if you prefer you can send an Email to Webmaster

Copyright © IRIN 2005
The material contained on www.IRINnews.org comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian news and information service, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies.
All IRIN material may be reposted or reprinted free-of-charge; refer to the IRIN copyright page for conditions of use. IRIN is a project of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.