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Turkmenistan
17.06.03
Urgent Interventions

Turkmenistan: widespread repression against political opposition figures and their relatives

Case TKM 140203.2
Follow-up of Case TKM 140203
Harassment / Arbitrary detention / Disproportionate prison sentences / Ill-treatment / Torture

Geneva, June 11th, 2003

The International Secretariat of OMCT has received new information regarding the following situation in Turkmenistan.

New information

The International Secretariat of OMCT has been informed by the Kyrgyz Committee for Human Rights, a member of the OMCT network, of the harassment, arbitrary detention, and alleged ill-treatment and torture of relatives of Boris Shikhmuradov and other opposition members in Turkmenistan. Disproportionate sentences have also reportedly been handed down in trials which OMCT believes do not meets the internationally recognised standards of fair trial, given that the defendants were not provided with access to legal counsel.

According to the information received, the Turkmen government has been harassing, intimidating, and detaining relatives of four men regarding the attempted assassination of President Niyazov of Turkmenistan. Boris Shikhmuradov, Guvanch Jumaev, and Nurmuhammed Khanamov were all sentenced by Turkmen Courts to life imprisonment (Sapar Yklymov, was tried in absentia and his sentence is unknown) and now their relatives are reportedly being harassed, arrested, detained and, in some cases, subjected to ill-treatment and torture.

Boris Shikhmuradov remains in poor health (see previous appeals for more details). His brother, Konstantin Shikhmuradov and grandson Murad Shikhmuradov were sentenced to long-term imprisonment and there are unconfirmed reports that Murad Shikhmuradov has since died. Their relatives have not been allowed to visit the imprisoned Shikhmuradovs and many friends and relatives are under de facto house arrest, are isolated and under constant observation.

Rozy Jumaev, Guvanch Jumaev's elderly father, has received a prison sentence, and his brother Chary Jumaev was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment. Timur Jumaev, Guvanch Jumaev's son, was sentenced to life imprisonment. Magtym Jumaev, another of his brothers, was detained for investigation for over two months, and was subjected to torture during detention. He is currently under house arrest. Relatives are not allowed to visit any of the imprisoned Jumaevs, their houses and other properties have been confiscated, and they have lost their jobs. Jumaev’s relatives are being subjected to round-the-clock surveillance.

Furthermore, Nurmuhammed Khanamov was sentenced to life imprisonment, while several of his relatives were sentenced and released, but have lost their jobs. Annamuhammed Khanamov, Nurmihammed's brother, has leukaemia and can only receive the appropriate medical care abroad. He is not, however, being allowed to leave the country.

The situation of the Yklymov family is particularly preoccupying: Sapar Yklymov, who has Swedish citizenship, was tried in absentia, but the sentence that resulted is not currently known. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has demanded Mr. Yklymov’s extradition. Amanmuhammed Yklymov, Sapar's 55-year-old brother, is a farmer and has been sentenced to twenty years imprisonment. Orozmamat Yklymov, Sapar's 53-year-old brother, was sentenced to nineteen years imprisonment. Esenaman Yklymov, his uncle’s, son Yklumov Orsmoukhamed`s (freelancer of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty), was sentenced to five years imprisonment after making critical comments regarding these events. 48-year old Yklym Yklymov, a high-profile lawyer, was sentenced to life imprisonment. He was also the head of one of the leading agencies of the Ministry of Justice until 1991. Orozmamat and Yklym Yklymov are being held at the investigation/detention centres (SIZO) of the National Security Service. Maral Yklymov, Sapar’s daughter is under house arrest. The Swedish authorities granted her political asylum on May 20th, 2003. The Turkmen government, however, has refused to allow her to leave the country. She is prohibited from communicating with relatives abroad, international organisations, the UN, the OSCE and diplomatic representatives. Yklymov’s relatives are now effectively hostages in the country. The family's homes and property have been seized and they are reportedly subjected to constant psychological pressure.

Amanmuhammed Yklymov, his wife Gozel, and sons Dovlet and Toili, endured terrible conditions at a detention centre for over a month, as a result of which Gozel and her children are suffering psychologically. Amanmuhammed's daughter Nazik, her child, his wife Gozel and her two children are homeless, and current conditions have prevented them from staying with her mother. Amanmuhammed's current location and condition are unknown. More than 100 of their relatives are under house arrest. Bairam Bairamov, Sapar's uncle was sentenced to four years, and his 83-year-old father, S. Bairamov, has received threats. According to the information received, the prison rations have been cut to the minimum and their quality is very poor. The prisoners are often denied food and are also reportedly being subjected to torture. After five months of detention, the health of the prisoners has seriously deteriorated, with many of them suffering from diseases, and all are extremely thin. Doctors, including Red Cross doctors, have not been allowed to visit the detainees, despite appeals from the international community.

OMCT is gravely concerned by this alleged orchestrated crackdown on the political opposition in the country, which has led to widespread harassment, arbitrary detention, ill-treatment, torture and unfair trials. Our source estimate that as many as 1’000 persons have been affected by this repressive action.

The International Secretariat of OMCT is gravely concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of all the afore-mentioned persons. OMCTcalls on the Turkmen government to end its campaign of intimidation against the relatives of opposition leaders. To release all of the detainees in the absence of valid legal charges that are in line with international law, or, if such charges exist, to ensure all detainees receive a prompt and fair trial, and that their procedural rights are guaranteed at all times. OMCT calls on the government to allow the detainees to receive family visits and access to legal counsel during the time of their detention. OMCT also urges the authorities to guarantee the freedom of movement of all the afore-mentioned relatives.

Brief reminder of the situation

After a three-day detention, ex-Vice Prime Minister of Turkmenistan, Boris Shikhmuradov, was forced into admitting to organising President Saparmurad Niazov’s attempted assassination. The attempt took place on November 25th 2002 in the centre of the capital, Ashgabat. The day before his detention, Boris Shikhmuradov published a letter on his opposition group’s website, stating that he would turn himself in to end the interrogation and torture of friends and family. Mr. Shikhmuradov claims that he was involved in organising political activity occurring at the end of November, but in the form public protests only. He claims the assassination attempt was a ploy orchestrated by the government itself in order to have an excuse to destroy the opposition. During the interrogation he confessed to stealing 5 Cy-17 Destructors, 9000 Kalashnikovs, 1. 5 million bullets and 30 million dollars worth of other military equipment. Mr. Shikhmuradov was sentenced to life in prison, (the maximum time was previously 25 years) and a 30 million dollar fine for damage to the Turkmen economy. Boris Shikhmuradov has been subjected to torture and received psychoactive-paralytic drug injections causing his health to seriously deteriorate. Sources indicate that he is unlikely to survive these conditions for much longer. International human rights organisations and OSCE are not allowed to visit Mr. Shikhmuradov. Boris’s sister Larissa Shikhmuradov revealed to the NGO “Memorial” that since the November 25th events, members of her family have been subjected to unwarranted searches, arrests, detentions, interrogation and surveillance. (See previous appeals for more details)

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 the afore-mentioned persons;
ii. locate the whereabouts of and order the detainees’ immediate release in the absence of valid legal charges, or, if such charges exist, bring them before an impartial and competent tribunal and guarantee their procedural rights at all times;
iii. guarantee adequate reparation to all injured persons;
iv. put an immediate end to the persecution and harassment of the above-mentioned persons;
v. 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 Atayevich Niyazov, President, Office of the President, Zdaniye Pravitel`stra, Ashkabad, Turkmenistan; fax: (+9 9312) 35 51 12 / 51 17 55
· Rashit Ovezgeldiyevich Meredov, Minister of Foreign Affairs, 744000 g Ahgabat; pr. Magtymguly, 83; Ministerstvo inostrannykh del Turkmenistan; Turkmenistan; fax: (+9 9312) 35 42 41

Please also write to the embassies of Turkmenistan in your respective country.
Geneva, June 11th, 2003
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
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