Attack on the Home of Prominent Turkmen Human Rights Defender's Mother
Statement by the Civic Solidarity Platform’s Turkmenistan Civic Solidarity Group
We urge the OSCE member states, political bodies and institutions to make a prompt and meaningful assessment of the Turkmen authorities' practices and to make it clear that persecution of public figures and journalists is incompatible with the country's OSCE commitments.
According to multiple sources, on the night of 28 to 29 October, the home of 76-year-old Khalida Izbastinova, mother of Farid Tukhbatulin (photo), prominent Turkmen human rights defender, chair of the Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights and editor of the Chronicles of Turkmenistan website, was attacked in Dashoguz in Northern Turkmenistan. The windows of her apartment were broken; fortunately, she was not harmed. The police called to the scene found several bricks and stones inside the apartment. On the eve of the incident, in the evening of 28 October, Khalida Izbastinova's telephone was disconnected, and she still cannot be reached.
We, members ofthe Turkmenistan Civic Solidarity Group, believe this attack to be directly connected to Farid Tukhbatulin and his organization's human rights and journalistic activities as an act of retaliation by the Turkmen authorities for his coverage of events in one ofthe world's mostrepressive countries and an attempt to silence him.
Civic activists and journalists in Turkmenistan are continuously subjected to physical and psychological violence. This year alone, civic activist Natalya Shabunts and Soltan Achilova, journalist with Radio Azatlyk, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Turkmen service, have been repeatedly attacked. The authorities practice hostage-taking and collective punishment as repression and intimidation tactics,targeting not only journalists and activists, but also their families. In February 2017, Radio Azatlyk correspondent Khudayberdy Allashov and his mother Kurbantach Arazmedova were convicted of possessing chewing tobacco, handed each a three-year suspended prison sentence and eventually released, having spent 2.5 year behind bars. Allashov's wife Edzhesh was beaten by police officers in front of her children, and Allashov was tortured in custody. Thousands of Turkmen citizens are illegally banned from exiting the country solely due to being related to people perceived as dissenters7 or having disappeared in Turkmen prisons. The Turkmen authorities systematically attack and threaten Turkmen public figures who have been able to leave the country, as well as their relatives still in Turkmenistan.
For many years, the Turkmen authorities have engaged in a pattern of intimidation, threats and violence against civic activists and journalists and their relatives. The recent attack on Khalida Izbastinova confirms once again that the authorities are prepared to use brutal force to silence the few sources of independent information on the situation in Turkmenistan, one of the world's most closed countries.
We express our solidarity with Tukhbatulin’s family and with everyone who has suffered at the hands of the Turkmen authorities.
We voice our strong protest and demand that the authorities of Turkmenistan stop their shameful and unlawful pressure on civic activists and journalists through persecution of their relatives and friends.
We urge the OSCE member states, political bodies and institutions to make a prompt and meaningful assessment of the Turkmen authorities' practices and to make it clear that persecution of public figures and journalists is incompatible with the country's OSCE commitments. In particular, we urge the OSCE to point out to Turkmenistan that collective persecution is unacceptable and to condemn this shameful and unlawful practice.