1. Home
  2. Asia
  3. Turkmenistan

Father of human rights activist forced into internal exile

The father of a human rights activist has been forced into internal exile, allegedly due to his daughter's activities, namely founding an organisation to tackle human rights violations in Turkmenistan, the most reclusive Central Asian nation. According to Tajigul Begmedova her father, Sazak Begmedov was seized by Turkmen police in Ashgabat late August. "It happened on Sunday [31 August] day time, he [Sazak Begmedov] was coming back from a drugs store and he saw four policemen near [his] house who stopped him and demanded that he get into a car," Tajigul Begmedova, head of the Turkmen Helsinki Foundation and Sazak Begmedov's daughter, told IRIN from the eastern Bulgarian town of Varna. She set up the human rights body in Bulgaria earlier this year, after leaving Turkmenistan due to restrictions there and had only just received information about the disappearance of her father. Four Turkmen Ministry of Internal Affairs officers seized 77-year-old Begmedov and took him away, saying: 'you have applied to the [Turkmen] authorities and now you are invited by the Minister of Internal Affairs [Ashyr] Atayev and Prosecutor [Kurbanbibi] Atajanova'. According to Begmedov's daughter, he asked the officials for documents, prompting the policemen to bundle him into the car. "He fell while he was being pushed into the car and they started to kick him," Begmedova said. Begmedova also said that her father felt sick in the car and asked to be taken to a doctor, but instead he was driven rapidly to the airport. "He asked them why they had brought him there and was told that it was the President's [Saparmurat Niyazov] order from above," she said. According to his daughter, he was forced upon a plane and taken to the northern Turkmen town of Dashauz where he was told by the head of the provincial police department that he was not allowed to leave the province without their permission. "I learnt that he had bruises on his back and he went to a doctor to get a [medical] report," Begmedova explained, noting that police didn't accept his complaint about the fact that he was beaten and that doctors were afraid of giving any medical examination report. "We learnt that he felt unwell on 4 September early morning and was taken to hospital," She said, adding that he may have suffered from heart attack, brain concussion and had kidney pains. The human rights activist said her father would also be deprived of his pension, as he had been registered and lived in the Turkmen capital, Ashgabat since 1967, explaining that in Turkmenistan a retired person's pension was tied to the place of registration. Commenting on why the Turkmen security authorities sent her father into internal exile, she said she believed they were very afraid of international criticism and the truth [with regard to the human rights situation]. "Law-enforcement bodies [themselves] abuse human rights in Turkmenistan," she stated. "This is [an act of] primitive and brutal revenge by the Turkmen security bodies." Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch (HRW) condemned the act recently, expressing concern over the persecution of dissidents' families in the country. "This is a clear case of retaliation. The government is punishing the daughter by attacking the father," Rachel Denber, deputy director for Europe and Central Asia Division at the international watchdog group, said in a statement. Denber also urged the diplomatic community to intervene to protect Begmedov and demand restoration of his right to the freedom of movement. "Silence puts the families of other dissidents at risk for the same treatment." HRW also said that there were another four cases of internal exile of political or religious dissidents in March, April and May of this year. The imposition of internal exile without a fair trial is a violation of the right to freedom of movement under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Turkmenistan is party. In April 2003, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights adopted a resolution condemning human rights abuses in Turkmenistan and deploring 'forced displacement to remote areas of the country.'

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

Share this article

Get the day’s top headlines in your inbox every morning

Starting at just $5 a month, you can become a member of The New Humanitarian and receive our premium newsletter, DAWNS Digest.

DAWNS Digest has been the trusted essential morning read for global aid and foreign policy professionals for more than 10 years.

Government, media, global governance organisations, NGOs, academics, and more subscribe to DAWNS to receive the day’s top global headlines of news and analysis in their inboxes every weekday morning.

It’s the perfect way to start your day.

Become a member of The New Humanitarian today and you’ll automatically be subscribed to DAWNS Digest – free of charge.

Become a member of The New Humanitarian

Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.