Turkmen human rights defenders’ life threatened in Austria

The life of Turkmen human rights defender Farid Tukhbatullin is in danger. Farid Tukhbatullin has received threats from the Turkmen authorities at several occasions during the previous years, and his relatives in Turkmenistan have been harassed.

Farid Tukhbatullin (to the right) together with Film director Arto Halonen during a visit in Stockholm in May 2009.

–    We expect the Austrian authorities to take appropriate measures for the protection of Farid Tukhbatullin. I hope that Sweden and the EU also will acknowledge the exposed situation of Farid. The dictatorship regime of Turkmenistan must be made to respect international agreements on human rights, not the least in relation to persons like Farid Tukhbatullin, who is punished for his hard work for democracy and human rights, says Robert Hårdh, Executive Director of Civil Rights Defenders.

Tukhbatullin is a well-known human rights defender, and director of the non-governmental organisation Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights, based in Austria. He has been working with issues relating to human rights in Turkmenistan since 1993. In 2002 he was imprisoned for his activities as a human rights activist but was released the next year after pressure from the international community and international human rights organisations.

Tukhbatullin left Turkmenistan in 2003 and has since then been living in Austria. In May 2009 he participated in a seminar in Stockholm arranged by Civil Rights Defenders, concerning the human rights situation in Turkmenistan.

Tukhbatullin believes that the recent threats relate to an interview ha gave to a Russian satellite TV –channel regarding the human rights situation in Turkmenistan. The interview was broadcasted in the whole of Central Asia, including Turkmenistan. On the 30th of September, the Turkmen president Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov held a speech to the security authorities in Turkmenistan in which he called on them to fight those who “defame our democratic law-based secular state”. During the following week the web site of Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights was attacked by hackers.

Several Turkmen human rights defenders are today forced to live in exile. The authoritarian Turkmen regime controls virtually all media and the use of Internet and telephones is strictly controlled. International human rights organisations are being denied entry into the country and reports about violations of human rights and political trials are frequent.

In January 2009 the former bodyguard of the Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov, Umar Israilov, was murdered in the street in Vienna. He had fled to Austria after he started openly criticizing the Kadyrov regime.

Categories: News.
Tags: Farid Tukhbatullin and Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights.
Regions: Turkmenistan.