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Central Asia news

Activist in Turkmenistan Arrested as Crackdown Continues

28.12.2002 00:00 msk

International League for Human Rights


President Saparmurat Niyazov

Republic of Turkmenistan

Via Fax: + 993-12-35-51-12

Cc: Gurbanbibi Atatjanova

Prosecutor General

Via Fax: +993-12-35-44-82

December 27, 2002

Dear Mr. Niyazov,

The International League for Human Rights, an international,

non-governmental human rights organization with consultative status at the

United Nations ECOSOC, is extremely concerned by the arrest of Farid

Tukhbatullin, an environmental activist and director of the Dashauz

Ecological Club.

Tukhbatullin was arrested on December 23, 2002, in the city of Dashauz, and

later transferred to Ashgabad, where he is held at the Ministry of National

Security.

Although the ostensible reason for Tukhbatullin's arrest is "illegal

crossing of the border" with Uzbekistan, the League fears that it is a

measure of retaliation for his participation in a meeting organized by the

International Helsinki Federation and the Memorial Human Rights Center in

November 2002 in Moscow, where international human rights activists and

experts gathered to discuss the human rights situation in Turkmenistan.

The League notes that Tukhbatullin's arrest comes amid the wave of arrests

throughout Turkmenistan following the alleged assassination attempt on

President Niyazov on November 25. Reports of the number of individuals who

are currently in detention on suspicion of participating in the plot range

from 200 to as many as 700. According to various credible sources, in

addition to the arrest of several former government officials, including

Boris Shikhmuradov, former Foreign Minister and lately an opposition leader

in exile, relatives of the main suspects have also been arrested and may

have been tortured. Likewise, the League fears that Tukhbatullin may face

torture while in detention.

The League joins the international community in demanding an immediate

release of Farid Tukhbatullin. Separately, we urge that the investigation

and the upcoming trial of suspects in the alleged assassination attempt be

conducted in full compliance with international standards of due process,

with full access to counsel and to local and international observers.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. We await your response.

Sincerely,

Louise Kantrow

Executive Director