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HRW: Austrian President Should Urge Ashgabat On Disappearances

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov
Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov

A rights group says President Heinz Fischer of Austria should urge President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov of Turkmenistan to address serious human rights problems in the country.

Berdymukhamedov is scheduled to meet Fischer in Vienna on May 12, 2015, to discuss a range of bilateral issues.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Turkmenistan is one of the most closed and repressive countries in the world.

In a video issued in November 2014, Human Rights Watch said that dozens of people have been forcibly disappeared in Turkmenistan, some for more than a decade.

These individuals were initially taken into detention, but neither their families nor anyone else has had any contact whatsoever with them for years, or been informed of their whereabouts or fate.

Rachel Denber, HRW's deputy Europe and Central Asia director, said Fischer's meeting with the Turkmen president was "a rare opportunity for Austria to directly raise with Berdymukhamedov issues that no one in his country dares to raise.”

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