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OSCE concerned over arrest of NGO activist in Turkmenistan

OSCE Centre in Ashgabad press-release

December 31, 2002.
ASHGABAD, 31 December 2002 - The OSCE Centre in Ashgabad is concerned about the fate of Mr. Farid Tuhbatullin, a member of a registered environmental group, who was detained by the authorities on 23 December and has been charged with illegal border crossing and concealment of a crime.

Mr. Tuhbatullin, a member of the Dashoguz Ecological Club, was detained by the Ministry of National Security at his apartment in Dashoguz, northeastern Turkmenistan, and transferred to Ashgabad. A warrant for his arrest was issued on 28 December.

The OSCE calls on the Turkmen authorities to fully comply with international human rights obligations, including OSCE commitments and standards, as well as the country's obligations under its Constitution, in handling this case. Among other things, this means ensuring that Mr. Tuhbatullin has access to a lawyer of his choice and that he does not suffer any form of ill treatment.

There is reliable information that all documentation related to his cross-border movements was in order and there appears to be very little, if any ground, for the first charge of illegal border crossing.

As regards the second charge, the Turkmen authorities are accusing Mr. Tuhbatullin of having concealed information he allegedly had heard during a human rights conference in Moscow at the beginning of November that an assassination attempt against the Turkmen President was under preparation. There appears to be no evidence to support this charge either.

The OSCE Centre in Ashgabad has requested permission to visit Mr. Tuhbatullin but has so far received no response from the authorities.

In his capacity as a member of an environmental non-governmental organization, Mr. Tuhbatullin has been a reliable working partner of the OSCE in Turkmenistan in the field of environmental protection. He attended several OSCE events, including two meetings of the Economic Forum, and was actively involved in the implementation of a two-year series of roundtables on the Aarhus Convention that the OSCE Centre in Ashgabad recently completed.

For further information, please contact:

Dieter Matthei
Political Officer
OSCE Centre in Ashgabad

47 Karl Liebknecht Str.
744000, Ashgabad

Tel.: +993 12 35 30 92
+993 12 35 31 16
+993 66 30 35 51 (mobile)

Fax: +993 12 35 30 41


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