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Turkmenistan
02.09.03
Urgent Interventions

Turkmenistan: deaths in detention, torture and harassment of members of the opposition

Case TKM 140203.3 / 020903.VAW
Follow-up appeal to Case TKM 140203.2
URGENT APPEAL / VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
Torture / Death in detention / Harassment of female relatives

Geneva, September 2nd, 2003

The International Secretariat of OMCT requests your URGENT intervention in the following situation in Turkmenistan.

Brief description of the situation

The International Secretariat of OMCT has been informed by the Kyrgyz Committee for Human Rights, a member of the OMCT network, of the deaths in detention of Amanmuhamedov Yklymov and Alexei Prokofiev. The information also reports the continued harassment of the relatives of Sapar Yklymov, in the context of the widespread harassment and repression against persons allegedly connected with Boris Shikhmuradov, the ex-Vice Prime Minister of Turkmenistan, now turned opposition leader, who was sentenced to life imprisonment following an unfair trial in which he was accused of involvement in a plot to assassinate President Saparmurad Niazov (see previous appeals).

As reported in a previous appeal (OMCT appeal 140203.2), Mr. Amanmuhamedov Yklymov, who is the brother of Sapar Yklymov, was arrested after his brother was convicted (in absentia) of being involved in the afore-mentioned assassination attempt. Mr. A. Yklymov was arrested on November 25th, 2002 and was detained incommunicado in the “trial centre” of the Ministry of Domestic Affairs. He was reportedly tortured throughout the time of his detention up until his death, which is thought to have occurred during March 2003, although the exact date remains unknown. The torture reportedly included severe beatings and the administration of large doses of psychotropic drugs, which resulted in fits and paralysis down the right side of his body. During an appearance before court, Mr. A. Yklymov stated that he had been tortured and named investigator R. Kazakov as the perpetrator of these acts, but his claim was reportedly ignored. All contact with or news about Mr. A. Yklymov stopped on February 20th, 2003.

Separately, Mr. Alexei Prokofiev was reportedly arrested on November 26th or 27th, 2002, and reportedly died as a result of torture during December 2002, before a judicial inquiry had taken place. Mr. Alexei Prokofiev had reportedly allowed Mr. Yklym Yklymov, the older brother of the afore-mentioned A. Yklymov, to hide at his home and was subsequently arrested and tortured in order force him to give away Mr. Yklym Yklymov’s whereabouts. Mr. Alexei Prokofiev’s relative, Ms. Olga Prokofieva, who is a close friend of Mr. Yklym Yklymov, was also reportedly tortured and remains in detention, where she is thought to be at considerable risk of being subjected to further torture. She was sentenced in January 2003 to a prison term, the duration of which is currently unknown. Mr. Yklym Yklymov was reportedly arrested on December 26th, 2002 - there are also grave concerns for his physical and psychological integrity.

The situation of Sapar Yklymov’s sisters (Kyakli, Dunya, and Bahara Yklymov) continues to be of grave concern, with government security agents stationed outside their house at all times. Sapar Yklymov’s mother, Gozel Yklymov (the wife, now widow, of Amanmuhamedov Yklymov), and her children also live at this residence. It is reported that the government agents subject these women and their children to harassment, leading to psychological trauma. Further to this, Kyakli Yklymov reportedly suffered a broken leg as a result of torture, but was unable to receive medical treatment. Also, Sapar Yklymov’s mother has severe back problems and she has been refused medical treatment. Medical personnel are forbidden from providing medical care to persons associated with the opposition. It is also difficult to bring doctors into the house due to the presence of government agents at the front door. Because of this surveillance, the children are not able to attend school. OMCT notes that the family is under de facto house arrest, unable to move from their home.

The International Secretariat of OMCT condemns the use of torture against the detainees, and in particular the deaths in detention of Mr. Amanmuhamedov Yklymov and Mr. Alexei Prokofiev. OMCT is gravely concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Yklym Yklymov and Ms. Olga Prokofieva, along with all other detainees still being held in relation with this widespread campaign of repression who remain at risk of being subjected to torture. OMCT is deeply troubled by the increased vulnerability of the female relatives of Sapar Yklymov - Kyakli, Dunya, and Bahara Yklymov - particularly as they have been denied access to medical care and given that almost all of their male relatives have been imprisoned, and some have died in prison. OMCT calls on the Turkmen government to end its campaign of torture against prisoners and intimidation and abuse against the relatives of the opposition leaders.

Brief reminder of the situation

In June 2003, OMCT received reports that Boris Shikhmuradov, Guvanch Jumaev, and Nurmuhammed Khanamov were sentenced to life imprisonment for their alleged involvement in an assassination plot on the life of the Turkmen President. Sapar Yklymov was also convicted in relation to this alleged plot, but as he was in political exile in Sweden, he was tried in absentia and his sentence is unknown. It was further reported that their relatives were being harassed, arrested, detained and, in some cases, subjected to ill-treatment and torture (for further details concerning this case, please see OMCT appeal 140203 and follow ups).

Action requested

Please write to the authorities in Turkmenistan urging them to:

i. take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Kyakli, Dunya, and Bahara Yklymov and Mr. Yklym Yklymov and Ms. Olga Prokofieva, as well as all other detainees still being held in relation with this widespread campaign of repression;
ii. initiate an immediate, impartial investigation into the circumstances of the deaths of Amanmuhamedov Yklymov and Alexei Panfilov and bring those responsible to justice;
iii. order the immediate release of those who continue to be detained in the absence of legal charges that are consistent with international law and standards, or, if such charges exist, bring them before an impartial and competent tribunal and guarantee their procedural rights at all times;
iv. guarantee that adequate reparation is provided to the families of the deceased as well as all persons who have been detained or subjected to ill-treatment or torture in relation with this case;
v. immediately cease the harassment that is being directed at family members of political opposition leaders and members;
vi. guarantee the respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms throughout the country in accordance with national laws and international human rights standards.

Addresses

· Saparmurad Niyazov, President, Office of the President, Zdaniye Pravitel’stra, Ashkabab, Turkmenistan, Fax: + 99 312 35 51 12 / 51 17 55 / + 99 312 511 430
· Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan, Rashit Ovezgeldiyevich MEREDOV17/07/01, Turkmenistan; 744000 g. Ashgabat; pr. Magtymguly, 83; Ministerstvo inostrannykh del Turkmenistana; Ministru MEREDOVU R.; TURKMENISTAN, Fax: + 993 12 35 42 41
· Procurator General of Turkmenistan, Gurbanbibi ATAJANOVA, Turkmenistan; g. Asghabat; ul. Seidi, 4; Prokuratura Turkmenistana; Generalnomu prokuroru; ATAJANOVOY G. Fax:+ 993 12 35 44 82

Please also write to the embassies of Turkmenistan in your respective country.

Geneva, September 2nd, 2003

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
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