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HRW Concerned Over Fates Of RFE/RL, Activist Detainees In Turkmenistan

June 27, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- The U.S.-headquartered Human Rights Watch (HRW) group today expressed concern over the fates of an RFE/RL journalist and rights campaigners and family members who were detained in Turkmenistan in mid-June.

Allison Gill, the director of the HRW Moscow office, told RFE/RL's Turkmen Service that the recent detentions are "another step of the repression that is epidemic in Turkmenistan" and "a clear attempt by authorities to silence all dissent."

"This is a clear violation of international norms," Gill argued. "We're very concerned that these human rights defenders, and the journalist, and their relatives are at risk of torture or ill treatment. They are being held incommunicado without access to their relatives, or to an attorney. This is the time that they are most vulnerable in detention for ill treatment or torture because they are cut off from everybody, except the police."

The detainees include two members of the Bulgarian-based Turkmen Helsinki Foundation (THF), Annakurban Amanklychev and Yelena Ovezova; RFE/RL Turkmen Service correspondent Ogulsapar Muradova and her three adult children; and Sapardurdy Khajiev, the brother-in-law of THF Chairwoman Tajigul Begmedova.

Speaking on national television on June 19, Turkmen National Security Minister Geldymukhammed Ashirmukhammedov accused THF of being part of a conspiracy to destabilize the country.