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Молодежное Правозащитное Движение

Open Appeal of the International Socio-Ecological Union "On protecting the life of Farid Tukhbatullin, human rights activist and citizen of Russia from the Turkmen security forces

10.11.2010

The International Socio-Ecological Union expresses its grave concern about the recent threats made against one of our members, Farid Tukhbatullin. At the beginning of October, the well-known Turkmen human rights activist received several confirmed signals that the security police of Turkmenistan were planning to quietly do away with him. This coincided with the statement from Turkmenistan's President Berdymukhammedov that the security police should strengthen its battle with “slanderers, who are outside the country’s borders,” which was published on September 30, 2010.

Farid Tukhbatullin is the main editor of the website “Chronicles of Turkmenistan” and the Director of the Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights. In Turkmenistan, Tukhbatullin worked for the Dashkhovuz Ecology Club. He was arrested in 2002 and was imprisoned until he was freed due to international pressure. He was forced to leave the country in 2003 and now lives in exile in Vienna, Austria. Farid is a citizen of Russia, although he was forced to leave his country because the Russian borders were too porous with regard to the Turkmen security police. The security police have threatened Farid and his family.

The Austrian police are treating the threat seriously and have placed Tukhbatullin and his home under 24-hour surveillance. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Crude Accountability, and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee have expressed publicly their concern about his safety. Turkmenistan is one of the most repressive countries in the world and most critics of the regime are either in prison or have disappeared.

We appeal to the government of Russia to defend its citizens and, at a minimum, to state its position with regard to the threat against Farid Tukhbatullin.

We appeal to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to send an official question to the leadership of Turkmenistan demanding that they explain the situation with regard to Farid Tukhbatullin.

We appeal to the internal and external security police of Russia to carefully follow the current situation and pay particular attention to the activity of Turkmenistan’s security police with regard to citizens of Russia, both inside and outside of Turkmenistan.

We appeal to representatives of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Russia to conduct a careful evaluation of the current situation, and to raise the question of the protection of Turkmen human rights defenders and their families during discussions at the OSCE.

We appeal to the European Union to refrain from signing a trade agreement with Turkmenistan until significant and measurable human rights improvements have taken place in Turkmenistan, including an official statement from the Turkmen government that it has not initiated a campaign against civil society activists, including those living outside of the country.

We appeal to international financial institutions, including the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the European Investment Bank and the World Bank Group, which are intensifying their relationships with Turkmenistan, to refrain from investing public financing into projects that involve the Turkmen government.

We believe that the international community must behave in a more principled fashion with regard to Turkmenistan and react to the strengthening of totalitarianism both within and beyond its borders. We believe that this current situation is the beginning of a campaign against “slanderers” and that many more Turkmen human rights defenders are under threat who have not yet been arrested or who have emigrated from the country. The number of people at-risk is considerable given that the government of Turkmenistan conducts “collective punishment,” the practice of harassing and intimidating the families, friends and colleagues of targeted individuals.

We believe that the ideals of democracy and human rights and the guarantee of personal safety are more important than any geopolitical games and economic interests. We appeal to the government of Russia and the international community to demonstrate a strong, principled stance in the defense of Farid Tukhbatullin and other Turkmen human rights defenders.


Contact Information:

Co-Chair, International Socio-Ecological Union, Askhat Kayumov +7 (831) 430-28-81