1. Home
  2. Asia
  3. Turkmenistan

Amnesty calls for stronger international pressure on Ashgabat

Amnesty International (AI) has called for stronger international pressure on Turkmenistan to improve what it describes as an appalling human rights record. "The international community must take a greater role," Sergei Nikitin, the head of Amnesty's Moscow branch told IRIN on Tuesday from the Russian capital. "People must remember what the situation is and not forget." His comments came just days after activists from the watchdog group gathered outside the Turkmen embassy in Moscow on Friday, marking the second anniversary of the publication of Turkmen President Sapurmurat Niyazov's "Rukhnama". Amnesty sees the book as a core element of the President's personality cult. The domination by President Niyazov of all aspects of life and the personality cult that he has surrounded himself with, are key to the failure to address impunity or counter widespread abuse of human rights, the group claimed. Such sentiments were echoed by Erika Dailey, director of the Turkmen Project of the Soros-funded Open Society Institute in Budapest. "We agree entirely," Dailey told IRIN, citing a growing international coalition concerned about the situation in Turkmenistan. According to the advocate, the reclusive Central Asian state of 5.5 million had had an abysmal human rights record for many years, but that there now seemed to be a cumulative outcry that was finally being heard on the international level, adding, however, it now needed to be magnified. "It is our shared view with Amnesty that the Rukhnama is just one more manifestation of very damaging domestic policies that President Niyazov is pursuing, emblematic of a much broader social, educational, economic and political deterioration in the country that is [already] having extremely long term effects that are going to be very hard to overcome," she said, noting: "It is crucial that the international community rally around their own concerns about the situation in Turkmenistan." According to Nitikin, human rights had deteriorated in the energy-rich Caspian Sea nation following an alleged assassination bid on the President's life in November. Hundreds of opposition activists were arrested and some opposition figures were sentenced to life imprisonment in draconian, Stalinist-style show trials. "There is an endless list of human rights violations in the country," the AI official said, drawing attention to the number of political prisoners and prisoners of conscious currently incarcerated inside the country. "We have to remember and draw peoples' attention [to the human rights issue]. We mustn't forget that the situation," he added, noting the limited amount of information coming out of the country. "They don't allow people to enter the country and therefore, there is no way we can know exactly what circumstances on the ground are," the activist claimed. [For more on the most recent Amnesty report on Turkmenistan: http://web.amnesty.org/]

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.