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Group Concerned About Former Turkmen Chief Mufti

(RFE/RL) March 13, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- A prominent international human rights group says it is "concerned" about the continued imprisonment of a former chief mufti in Turkmenistan.

An ethnic Uzbek, Nasrullah ibn Ibadullah was sentenced to 22 years' imprisonment on treason charges in a secret trial in 2004. He had been removed from his post as chief mufti the previous year.

London-based Amnesty International says it has received "reliable information" that Ibadullah's family had not been permitted to see him since his arrest.

The organization has called on the Turkmen government to immediately release all prisoners of conscience and to appropriately address all other cases, including Ibadullah's.

Newly elected President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has indicated readiness to review some of the policies of his predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov, who died in December, in the educational, social, and economic spheres.

Turkmenistan's Presidential Election

Turkmenistan's Presidential Election

A billboard in Ashgabat with portraits of the candidates in the February 11 election (OSCE)

SIGNS OF CHANGE? Reporters Without Borders analyst Elsa Vidal and RFE/RL Kazakh Service Director Merkhat Sharipzhanov led an RFE/RL briefing in Prague about the significance -- or lack thereof -- of Turkmenistan's first-ever competitive presidential election.


Listen to the entire briefing (about 60 minutes):
Real Audio Windows Media


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RFE/RL's coverage of Turkmenistan.