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23.12.2006

Human rights and journalist organizations call on Turkmen authorities to free imprisoned journalists and other political prisoners

   

Since the death in unexplained circumstances of 58-year-old correspondent for the Turkmen Service of Radio “Svoboda”, Ogulsapar Muradova, nothing has been heard of her colleagues who were tried with her on 25 August.  35-year-old Annakurban Amanklychev and Salardurdy Khadzhiev (47) were convicted on illegal possession of arms (Article 287 (2) and sentenced to 6 and 7 years, respectively. The trial lasted only a few minutes, was held behind closed doors and in the Asatlyksky District Court where the trials are usually held of dissidents. (the word “asatlyk”, incidentally, in Turkmen means “freedom”).

Ogulsapar Muradova’s family learned of her death after members of the enforcement bodies appeared on Thursday at the home of her children and relatives and left a telephone number which they were told to ring and find out about her fate. It proved to be the telephone number of the city morgue, whose employees at first refused to show them Muradova’s body, and just demanded that they sign the papers certifying her death. about her death  Ogulsapar Muradova’s family refused to sign, insisting that they be shown her body, and were themselves threatened in response. Later the body was returned to the family. Ogulsapar Muradova’s body had marks indicating violence, with a wound on the forehead and bruises on the neck. The circumstances of her death remain unknown.

According to the Helsinki Human Rights Foundation in Turkmenistan there are four thousand political prisoners held in the country’s prisons.

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