Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation
New Arrests and Detention of Civil Activists

In the middle of March 2005 a new correspondent for the RFE/RL Turkmen Service, Ogulsapar Muradova, was set to meet with fellow correspondent Khalmurad Gylychdyev to discuss work-related matters. She was accompanied to the meeting by human rights defender Annakurban Amanklychev.

Then she gave an interview to Prague-based journalist Rozynazar Khudayberdyev from her home telephone. Ogulsapar had given several previous radio interviews. But following her first interview, which she had given under the pseudonym Kumush, the security services (officials of the Ministry of National Security, former KGB – Tr.) set up round-the-clock surveillance of both her and Amanklychev. Their telephones were tapped, and the security services shut off phone service to her and her daughter’s mobile phones and their home telephone. Their home phone did not work for three months. Muradova sent tens of appeals to various government agencies, but the authorities cited the “busy schedule, lack of qualified specialists, overwhelming workload, and a failure to discover any reason for the interruption in service.”

External surveillance was established for a period around the entrance to the house where the Muradovs live. Two men took turns on duty near the entrance. The following is an excerpt from communication from Muradova to K.M. Tyllaev, head of the Ashgabat Municipal Police Department: “For some time now suspicious individuals who identify themselves as officials of the municipal government (khakimlik) have begun making inquiries with people who live in our entryway. These people were in touch with us in the middle of March, then on April 4, and again on April 6.”  Using threats they tried to force Muradova to cease her human rights work. They threatened to evict her from her apartment and threatened her childrens’ freedom. It later became apparent that there are no individuals with such last names working in the khakimlik. The local police precinct also denies having sent any officers to Muradova’s place of residence. Ogulsapar wrote openly about this in letters to the Procurator, the police and the Ministry of National Security.

Recently she has been under 24-hour surveillance. Ogulsapar reported, “We have been under full-scale surveillance for more than twenty days now, and they videotape all my comings and goings.  Mostly the surveillance is conducted by security service officials in a silver Model 9 Lada car with license plate number G4865 AN or a white one with license plate number G6425, and by  5 white models with license plate numbers G7563 AN and G4719 AN. On June 17 there was an attempt to set fire to the home of her elderly mother, Annasoltan, who lived at house 38 on the street formerly known as Vokzalnaya. There are old wooden homes known as “Finnish” houses ýn her neýghborhood that were built following the 1948 earthquake. Neighbors were able to put out the fire before it spread to the main buildings.”

As this report was going to pressþ an urgent communication came in from Ashgabat. Today at around 5:00 pm local time two Ashgabat police officers came to Muradova’s apartment and took away 58-year-old Ogulsapar Muradova in a car with license plate number 5546AN. No official arrest warrant or other documentation was presented. When the Muradov family protested, a senior lieutenant who identified himself as Toily told them that she had been taken ýn ”to have a chat” and referred them to phone number 39-00-49. 

A second communication concerns human rights defender Amanklychev. It was reported that on Friday, June 16, at approximately 11:00 in the morning Ministry of National Security officials detained 35-year-old Annakurban Amanklychev, who is a member of the Turkmen Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights.

That same day Annakurban’s car was parked on an Ashgabat street. Witnesses report that five officials from the Ministry of National Security of Turkmenistan, without the driver present, broke into the car and planted a small parcel inside. Despite heated inquiries from family members the authorities have given no information as to the reason for Amanklychev’s detention.

It has been reported that Annakurban was also under surveillance. This had escalated following his unofficial meetings with French TV-2 journalists who were investigating the state of education and health care in Turkmenistan. Nonetheless, Annakurban continued his human rights work.

A high-ranking official in the regional procuracy who asked not to be identified stated the following: “Apparently they planted drugs on him or, even worse, bullets. They were already being linked with accusations of theft and corruption, which the General Procuracy has been fabricating lately. Since (former Procurator General – Tr.) Kurbanbibi Atajanova was arrested the MNS has been filling the void she left behind. And since the war on drugs and on crime are very popular in today’s world the MNS probably decided to arrest the human rights defender by planting one of those three things on him. That way they kill two birds with one stone: they get rid of a human rights defender who is a nuisance to the regime and at the same time demonstrate their commitment to the country and their preparedness to make the state secure.”

One other fact suggests that the authorities are hunting down members of the Turkmen Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights. Coinciding with Muradova’s detention, 41-year-old Elena Ovezova, one of the human rights organization’s activists, was also detained at her apartment by the police, also without a court order. She is raising two children: a three-year-old and an eleven-year-old.

Half an hour later police also detained 47-year-old Sapardurdy Khadjiev, a relative of THF’s chairman. We have been informed that at 11:00pm local time relatives of the detainees were gathering in front of the entrance to the MVD (Ministry of Internal Affairs – Tr.) building. Neither the duty officer nor any other officials have indicated the basis for the activists’ detentions or offered their loved ones any other information. The phone number 39-00-49 which the police officers had given also offers no reasonable answer.

 Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation

June 18, 2006


       [ Baş sahypa ]            [ Çap ]             [ Dostuňa ýolla ]