On the Human Rights and Security Crisis in Turkmenistan. Violence Could Spread

11.11.2008

Statement by the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) and Human Rights Center “Memorial”, Moscow Turkmenistan, the most repressive state in Central Asia and the OSCE participating State most neglectful of that organization’s efforts to promote human rights and democracy,

Statement by the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF)

and Human Rights Center “Memorial”, Moscow

Turkmenistan, the most repressive state in Central Asia and the OSCE participating State most neglectful of that organization’s efforts to promote human rights and democracy, may face more attempts violently to overthrow of its government, especially after an alleged presidential assassination attempt on 25 November 2002 and a subsequent wave of arrests. Amnesty International, Memorial, Human Rights Watch and a newly formed Helsinki human rights group composed of persons exiled from Turkmenistan have reported on many violations of human rights in the context of the incident, including arrests of family members of suspects, denial of access to lawyers, and torture.

Observers consider Turkmenistan’s government to be the most unstable in a region where increasing poverty, corruption, and the abuse of basic human rights have created a climate of political unrest that, more and more frequently, leads to violent and illegal governmental repression of dissent. Civil conflict in Turkmenistan would likely result in instability in neighboring countries where political reform is likewise obstructed.

“Human rights violations in Turkmenistan are threatening regional stability and security, the current governmental policy in Turkmenistan is only leading to a reign of increasing state terror and reprisals – especially at a time of peril posed by terrorism and its response,” Aaron Rhodes, IHF Executive Director, and Vitalii Ponomarev, who directs Memorial’s program on Central Asia, said in a joint statement.

The IHF and Memorial endorse the OSCE’s invoking the Moscow Mechanism to dispatch a mission to Turkmenistan that will look into the current situation in Turkmenistan. Members of the OSCE should discuss with the regime of President Niazov the need for dialogue and peaceful political change; free and independent media; political pluralism; an active civil society; and cooperation with international institutions.

The IHF and Memorial applaud a 12 December 2002 proposal by the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media to hold a special OSCE meeting of the organization’s Permanent Council devoted to the situation in Turkmenistan.

For more information:

Aaron Rhodes, IHF, Vienna: +43-1-408 8822 / +43-676-635 6612

Vitaly Ponomarev, Memorial, Moscow: +7-095-432-34-77 or +7-095-200-65-06