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The Norwegian Helsinki Committee joins protests in reaction to credible reports of the arrest, torture, and conviction following unfair trials, and imprisonment under inhumane conditions of 18 men in Turkmenistan. The sentences, from 12 to 25 years, were handed down in a closed, two-hour trial, and set out in a summary of the verdict that lacks any information about the specific acts the men are accused of committing or the evidence against them.
Today, the Turkmenistan Civic Solidarity Group issues a statement regarding Sunday's Presidential "Elections" in Turkmenistan. In it, the organisations urge all interested parties, including the OSCE and other international organizations, to take a principled stance and to not recognize the presidential “elections” in Turkmenistan as free, transparent, fair, competitive, and in accordance with international standards.
Turkmenistan er det mest lukkede landet i Sentral-Asia, og er ikke tilgjengelig for internasjonale menneskerettighetsorganisasjoner. Helsingforskomiteen har engasjert seg bredt i arbeidet for å løfte frem situasjonen i Turkmenistan internasjonalt, både gjennom skyggerapporter til FNs Torturkomite og ved å arrangere rundebordsdiskusjoner med turkmenske aktivister i eksil. Vi har også engasjert oss i situasjonen for den politiske fangen Gulgeldy Annaniyazov, som har asyl i Norge men som sitter fengslet i Turkmenistan. Turkmenistan ledes av president Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, som har bygget opp en betydelig personkult rundt seg selv. Så godt som alle grunnleggende menneskerettigheter brytes systematisk under hans ledelse.
International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances:
On this International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, the Prove They Are Alive! campaign reaffirms its solidarity with all victims of disappearances in Turkmenistan’s prisons and their families, urges the Turkmen authorities to immediately end this gross violation of human rights, and calls on the international community to make the ending of enforced disappearances in Turkmenistan’s prisons a key condition for development of cooperation with the Turkmen government and firmly demand that Turkmenistan implement international legal norms and its obligations in the framework of these organisations.
Do you want to join a small team in NHCs active office in Kazakhstan? NHC has a vacancy for an Administrative Officer at our Central Asia Office in Almaty. Deadline for applications is 24 June 2016.
Nine human rights organizations have sent a joint open letter to Turkmenistan’s Prosecutor General regarding an appalling attack on Umida Jumabaeva, a justice-seeking mother. She was physically assaulted and had acid thrown at her by unknown perpetrators on 22 May 2016, leaving her with severe burns to her face and body. The context of the attack suggests that she may have been targeted in retribution for petitions she filed regarding her son, a military conscript. The signatories call for a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation into the attack, with due attention being given to this possible motive for the attack.
On the occasion of the International Week of the Disappeared, the human rights campaign “Prove They Are Alive!” calls upon the government of Turkmenistan to shed light on the fate of dozens who have been imprisoned for more than a decade, and to immediately halt the practice of enforced disappearances. The government of Turkmenistan should inform the relatives of the disappeared of their fate and whereabouts and allow them access to their loved ones without further delay.
As a member of the Prove They Are Alive! campaign, the NHC has joined a statement where we express our disappointment and regret at the failure of the government of Turkmenistan to provide a substantive reply to the United Nations Human Rights Committee on its decision on the case of Boris Shikhmuradov within the period established by the Committee.
“The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is deeply concerned about the fate of Saparmamed Nepeskuliev, an independent journalist and activist who is still unaccounted for following his arrest near the seaport town of Turkmenbashi (formerly Krasnovodsk) in Turkmenistan on 7 July 2015”, said Ivar Dale, Senior advisor in the Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC). “On the international level, the Turkmen government has made promises to improve the human rights situation in the country. Yet, time and again, we see evidence of the opposite happening. Nepeskuliev’s arrest is yet another grave example of this. He must be released immediately.”
HRHW film festival:
- Western democracies should impose targeted sanctions against the Azerbaijani elite. Statements of concerns from European leaders are only benefitting the Aliyev regime said Vugar Gojayev, human rights defender in exile and NHC project coordinator in the discussion after the screening of Amazing Azerbaijan at the Human Rights Human Wrongs film festival on Saturday.
Watch Turkmenistan video:
12 years ago, on 25 November 2002, a group of political opposition leaders in Turkmenistan was accused of an alleged assassination attempt on then President Niyazov, in what appeared to be a failed political coup. The members of that group were arrested and quickly imprisoned without proper trials, along with family members and others who were swept up in the frenzy around the event. Since then, the families of the imprisoned have not received any news about them, have not been able to see them, and, in many cases, family members were also subject to imprisonment and harassment. As a member of the Prove they are alive! campaign, the NHC demand that the government of Turkmenistan government inform the families of the disappeared about their whereabouts and condition.
OSCE meeting in Warzaw:
NHC is active at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting 2014 which is currently taking place in Warsaw.
On occasion of the UN International Day of the Disappeared, which is on August 30, 2014, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee together with the Prove They Are Alive! campaign launch a video clip and press release to put the spotlight on the issue of enforced disappearances in Turkmenistan.
Søndag avviklar Turkmenistan det som i mange andre land kallast parlamentsval, i Norge Stortingsval. Det vil seie – det blir kalla parlamentsval i Turkmenistan óg, det er stemmelokale med alt riktig tilbehør over heile landet og det kjem eit resultat etter ei oppteljing av stemmesedlar, men det er ikkje eit val.
On 29 June, Jennifer Lopez and other artists performed at a birthday concert for President Berdymuhammedov, Turkmenistan's
- Turkmenistan is one of the worst human rights performers in the world, says Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsiniki Committee Bjørn Engesland. Such an appearance in Turkmenistan not only legitimises a corrupt and authoritarian regime, but also reflects badly on any artist's aspirations to draw attention to human rights issues. In an open letter to Ms Lopez, the NHC and several other international NGOs encourage her to donate the fee she received to a charity working to improve the dismal human rights situation in the country.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is pleased to announce the continuation of our small grants fund for Central Asia. All organizations with project proposals related to human rights, democratization or strengthening of civil society may apply. While we are open to all good proposals, we encourage projects in Kazakhstan related to the outlying regions of the country. In Kyrgyzstan, we are particularly interested in projects addressing the basic human rights of vulnerable groups as well as legal initiatives. In Tajikistan, strengthening of the media and the rights of children is important. However, we are open to original and innovative ideas.
New NHC report:
The report "Women: Turkmenistan’s Second-Class Citizens” gives a unique look into the everyday life of women in Turkmenistan.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is pleased to announce that the following projects have been selected to receive support from its annual Small Grants Fund.
Endemic corruption, arbitrariness and denial of justice are key words that illustrate the justice system of Turkmenistan today. Few citizens dare to address the system for help, knowing that virtually any case is decided through money and good connections. Now, three brave persons that independently of each other have been through the system and back with their complaints to no avail, hope that international resonance to their case can create a positive precedence for others.
The UN CEDAW committee is “seriously concerned about attitudes and policies reinforcing discriminatory traditional norms, harmful practices and patriarchal attitudes and deep-rooted stereotypes […] in all spheres of life” in Turkmenistan.
The report "Turkmenistan: Dashoguz Women’s Prison Colony" gives a unique look into the everyday life in the women’s prison colony in the city of Dashoguz, in the very north of Turkmenistan.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is deeply concerned over the continued reports of travel bans imposed on several groups of citizens of Turkmenistan, prohibiting them from leaving their home country.
In a statement supported by other Civic Solidarity Platform members, the NHC expresses regret that Baroness Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, did not use her recent visit to Central Asia to raise the human rights challenges in the region. This is particularly disappointing as the EU is about to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for its "advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights".
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee was distressed to learn of serious, anonymous threats made against the Central Asia Program Director of Human Rights Center Memorial, Vitaliy Ponomarev, on 12 January 2012 and urges Russian and Uzbekistani authorities to open an investigation.
Universal Periodic Review:
– The Norwegian Helsinki Committee remains deeply concerned about the current human rights situation in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, which begs improvement on every aspect of fundamental human rights, says Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Bjørn Engesland. Both states are counted amongst the most repressive not only in the Central Asian region, but also in the world as a whole. Torture, political use of the judiciary and repression of media and civil society is widespread.
In cooperation with local activists, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee has submitted an alternative report to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women’s (CEDAW) 53 Session on 11 October, where Turkmenistan will be heard in Geneva.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is pleased to announce the continuation of our small grants fund for Central Asia. All organizations with project proposals related to human rights, democratization or strengthening of civil society may apply. While we are open to all good proposals, we encourage projects in Kazakhstan related to the outlying regions of the country. In Kyrgyzstan, we are particularly interested in projects addressing the basic human rights of vulnerable groups as well as legal initiatives. In Tajikistan, strengthening of the media and the rights of children is important. In addition to our regular program, we are glad to announce that additional grants have been allocated for smaller projects in Kazakhstan. These grants may be up to 9,999 USD, and are intended to support projects in more outlying regions of the country. The deadline and other requirements are the same.
Five Year Anniversary of EU Central Asia Strategy:
- Five years on, there is broad consensus that the human rights dialogues established with the Central Asian governments and other measures taken to implement the Strategy’s human rights objectives have not been as effective as desired. The overall human rights situation in Central Asia has not improved in any substantial way and, in some respects, human rights protection has even deteriorated in the countries of the region. NHC is among the signatories of an appeal to the European Union in occation of the five year anniversary of the EU Central Asia strategy.
On 22 and 23 May, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee and the Coalition for the International Criminal Court organized a seminar in Almaty, Kazakhstan with participants from civil society in all five Central Asian republics.
European Development Bank:
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development must maintain demands that Turkmenistan and Belarus meet set benchmarks before any investment in the restrictive countries. The Norwegian Helsinki Committee today participated in a meeting at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in London, discussing the Bank’s calibrated approach towards Belarus and Turkmenistan. The two authoritarian countries are the only cases in which the EBRD has initiated such an approach that allows for closer monitoring of the progress or regress towards set benchmarks on political and economic reform, and more rapid response to the development.
The NHC is pleased to announce a contest for project proposals aiming at improving the situation regarding human rights, democratization or civil society in Central Asia. All organizations in the region with project proposals related to human rights, democratization or strengthening of civil society may apply. At the same time, we encourage projects targeting political rights in Kazakhstan, minority rights in Tajikistan, and reconciliation and protection of basic human rights after the Osh events in Kyrgyzstan.