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Turkmenistan
31.08.06
Urgent Interventions

Turkmenistan: Sentencing and arbitrary detention of Mrs. Ogulsapar Muradova, Mr. Annakurban Amanklychev and Mr. Sapardurdy Khajiev

TKM 001 / 0806 / OBS 103
Sentences / Arbitrary detentions / Ill-treatments
Turkmenistan

August 31, 2006

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Turkmenistan.

Brief description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources of the sentences pronounced against Mrs. Ogulsapar Muradova, a Turkmen correspondent of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE / RL) and a former member of the Turkmen Helsinki Foundation (THF), a Bulgaria-based organisation, Mr. Annakurban Amanklychev, an independent journalist, and Mr. Sapardurdy Khajiev, a human rights activist, both members of the THF.

According to the information received, on August 25, 2006, the Azatlyk District Court of Ashgabat respectively condemned Mrs. Muradova and Mr. Amanklychev to a six-year and a seven-year prison terms, while Mr. Khajiev was sentenced to a seven-year term in a high-security prison. All three were sentenced for “illegally possessing ammunitions” (article 287-2 of the Criminal Code), on the basis that police officers would have found some arms in Mr. Amanklychev’s car. The three defendants decided to appeal this verdict on August 29 and 30, 2006.

According to the information received, the trial took place in camera. Indeed, the lawyers were denied access to Court, as they were kicked out by soldiers just before the hearing, while trying to meet their clients. As a consequence, only the Prosecutor and the defendants were allowed to attend the hearing, which lasted just a few minutes. Moreover, the Court building and the streets leading to it were cordoned off by armed soldiers, preventing the defendants’ relatives and supporters from coming in.

M. Amanklychev had been arrested on June 16, 2006 by police officers, when he was working on a documentary with two French production companies, dealing with the deterioration of the health and education systems in Turkmenistan, and the personality cult of the President of the Republic. Mr. Khajiev and Mrs. Muradova were arrested on June 18, 2006, at their homes. They all remained detained incommunicado in a National Security Service pre-trial detention centre for more than two months, during which they were reportedly subjected to ill-treatments. Besides, they were never notified about the charges against them, nor their lawyers, and were not allowed to meet them.

On June 19, 2006, the highest authorities’ representatives, such as the President of the Republic and the National Security Minister, publicly accused the three defendants of having conspired with foreigners in order to destabilise the State.

The Observatory is very preoccupied by these sentences, which represent a further step into the repression against human rights activists and journalists. In this regard, the Observatory underlines that, in a press release dated August 28, 2006, the Representative on freedom of the media of the Organisation for the Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) “criticised these decisions”, “condemned the lack of transparency in the handling of the cases”, and recalled to the Turkmen authorities their commitments, as a participating State, to “help journalists to collect and disseminate information regarding matters of public interest”.

Actions requested:

Please write to the Turkmen authorities urging them to :
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mrs. Ogulsapar Muradova and Messrs. Annakurban Amanklychev and Sapardurdy Khajiev ;

ii. Ensure that their rights to a fair and impartial trial on appeal will be guaranteed in any circumstances;

iii. Put an immediate end to any kind of reprisals, including judicial harassment, against Mrs. Muradova and Messrs. Amanklychev and Khajiev ;

iv. Conform with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or in association with others, to promote the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, article 6a), which provides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms”, as well as article 12.2, providing for the State to “take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of their rights”;

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with regional and international human rights standards, in particular OSCE commitments regarding freedom of the media, recognized by Turkmenistan.

Addresses:

  • Mr. Saparmyrat Niyazov, President of the Republic, Zdaniye Pravitel'stra, Ashkabab, Turkmenistan, Fax: + 00 99 312 35 51 12 / 51 17 55 / 51 14 30

  • Mr. Rashit Ovezgeldiyevich Meredov, Miinister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan, Turkmenistan; 744000 g. Ashgabat; pr. Magtymguly, 83; Ministerstvo inostrannykh del Turkmenistana; Fax: + 00 99 312 35 42 41 / 39 28 50, e-mail: mfatm@online.tm

  • Ambassador Mr. Kakadjan Mommadov, Diplomatic Mission of Turkmenistan in Brussels, 4 rue Montoyer, 1000 Brussels, Belgium, Tel: + 32 2 513 28 36, Fax: + 32 2 511 04 50


Please also write to diplomatic representations of the Republic of Turkmenistan in your respective countries.

***
Geneva-Paris, August 31, 2006

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

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.
The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
Email : Appeals@fidh-omct.org
Tel et fax FIDH : + 33 1 43 55 55 05 / 33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel et fax OMCT : +41 22 809 49 39 / 41 22 809 49 29
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