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 You are in: Under Secretary for Political Affairs > Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs > Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Releases > Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Remarks > 2003 > June

Human Rights Concerns in Turkmenistan

Stephan M. Minikes, U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
Statement to the OSCE Permanent Council
Vienna, Austria
June 5, 2003

Released by the U.S. Mission to the OSCE

(As delivered)

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am very sorry to have to raise once again our serious concerns about the plight of prisoners in Turkmenistan. The United States is deeply troubled that prisoners, including our former colleague here, Batyr Berdiev, and Yazgeldy Gundogdiyev are being held incommunicado, are not receiving adequate nourishment, and do not have access to medical care.

No crime justifies the stringent conditions under which these men and others are being held. All prisoners, however charged, should be allowed visitors, be they family members, friends, lawyers, or interested parties -- including the ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross] and other humanitarian organizations.

The United States calls on the Government of Turkmenistan to permit immediate and unrestricted access to all prisoners, including those arrested in the wake of the November 25 attack. We further call on the Turkmen authorities to cease their unfair treatment of family members, including property seizures, police surveillance, job dismissal, and undue restrictions on movement in and outside of Turkmenistan.

Mr. Chairman, I am disturbed by recent reports on the dramatically deteriorating condition of Boris Shikhmuradov. He is under grave physical and mental duress and should receive competent medical attention immediately. Moreover, mistreatment of prisoners, such as injections of psychotropic drugs, must stop at once. There is absolutely no justification for this type of abuse, and we are troubled to hear that prisoners continue to be victims of such treatment.

Mr. Chairman, what is transpiring in Turkmen prisons is inconsistent not only with Turkmen law, but also with Turkmenistan's international commitments, including those to this organization. We repeat our call on the Government of Turkmenistan to allow the ICRC immediate access to all detainees. Thank you.


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