Human rights backlash

Did you know that Saparmamed Nepeskuliev and 111 other individuals have disappeared in prisons in Turkmenistan? The human rights situation is critical in many European and Central-Asian countries.

The Civic Solidarity Platform (CSP) has issued an appeal raising serious concerns about the situation for political prisoners in Turkmenistan and for human rights defenders in other OSCE participating states.

The list of political prisoners disappearing into Turkmenistan’s prison system is getting longer and longer. These individuals have no access to legal representation, medical care, no contact with the outside world. Their families don’t even know if they are alive and a few of the prisoners are confirmed dead.


Several cases of imprisonment in retaliation for peaceful support of fundamental freedoms in OSCE-states are being highlighted in the statement from CSP.

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC) is a member of CSP and has worked closely on several of the cases raised.

  •  Kazakh activists Max Bokayev and Talgat Ayan were sentenced to five years on politically motivated trumped-up charges late last year after exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
  • Tajik lawyers Buzurgmehr Yorov and Nuriddin Mahkhamov, have been imprisoned on lengthy terms in retaliation for their professional activities as defense lawyers of political opponents of the regime.


The political opposition in Tajikistan has been eradicated, hundreds of political prisoners now languish behind bars and the police systematically cracks down on freedom of expression and media freedom.  These resent developments were discussed in Warsaw, at the annual Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM) in Warsaw last week.

NHC co-hosted a side-event at HDIM in which the panelists delved deeply into the Tajik human rights crisis. United Nations Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, professor David Kaye reported on the deteriorating situation for freedom of expression. A representative from the OSCE Office of the Representative on Freedom of the Media spoke about recent alarming developments in the field of media freedom.


The NHC representative and Human Rights Watch’s Central Asia researcher raised concerns about the harsh retaliatory actions against meted out against relatives of Tajik activists who speak out about abuses, and provided policy recommendations to decision makers in Washington and Brussels.

– Tajik authorities are cracking down ruthlessly because they keep getting away with it. Tajikistan’s democratic partners must consider targeted sanctions against key government officials complicit in gross human rights violations, says Marius Fossum, NHC Regional Representative in Central Asia.