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Wife Of Turkmen Opposition Activist Says Ashgabat Has Given Arrest List To Turkey


Turkmen activists hold a protest against the regime of President Gurbanguly Berdimukhammedov in New York last month.

The wife of a Turkmen activist being held in Turkey and facing deportation says the government in Ashgabat has handed Ankara a list of more than two dozen people it wants arrested and sent back for their activism.

The Turkmen Helsinki Foundation (THF) said in a report that two more Turkmen opposition activists residing in Turkey -- Ahmet Rahmanov and Kamil Abulov -- had been detained, with Abulov's wife saying police told her they had a list of 28 Turkmen citizens residing in Turkey whom the Turkmen government has asked Ankara to arrest and deport.

According to the Bulgaria-based THF, the 47-year-old Rahmanov went incommunicado on October 18 after he visited a migration office in the southwestern Turkish city of Antalya to prolong his residence permit.

A day later, Rahmanov's friends were informed that he had been placed in a deportation center. Rahmanov has been a longtime administrator of the opposition Democratic Choice of Turkmenistan movement's online chat page.

He also has been critical of authoritarian President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov and his government on YouTube and programs aired by RFE/RL's Turkmen Service.

The THF said Abulov's wife informed it her 35-year-old husband had also been detained and placed in a deportation center, where police revealed the list of those Ashgabat is seeking.

Abulov was detained briefly in early August after Turkmen activists tried to hold a protest in front of the Turkmen Consulate in Istanbul.

Turkmen activists residing in Turkey have faced increased pressure from Turkish law enforcement officials in recent months, while their families at home have also come close scrutiny from local authorities.

On October 16, police in the eastern Turkmen city of Turkmenabat summoned 51-year-old Tazegul Ovezova for questioning about the activities of her son, Azat Hayitbaev, a noted opposition activist residing in Turkey.

Ovezova refused to go to the police station, citing poor health after a recent heart attack. According to the THF, Hayitbaev's name is included on the list of the 28 Turkmen Ashgabat is seeking in Turkey.

Another activist residing in Turkey, Merdan Joraev, told the THF that police had recently visited his relatives in Turkmenistan's eastern region of Lebap to ask about his whereabouts.

Since last year, protests against Berdymukhammedov have been held by Turkmen citizens residing in Turkey, the United States, and Northern Cyprus.

Government critics and human rights groups say Berdymukhammedov has suppressed dissent and made few changes in the restrictive country since he came to power after the death of autocrat Saparmurat Niyazov in 2006.

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