Radio Liberty Stringer Attacked in Turkmenistan
Unidentified young men attacked the home in Ashgabat of Gurbansoltan Achilova, a civil society activist and stringer for Radio Azatlyk, the Turkmen Service for Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe (RFE/RL), the Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights (TIHR) reported.
Achilova said she was awoken at 4:00 am by the sound of broken glass, and found all her windows had been knocked out by stones, and that a group of about a dozen youths were leaving the scene. She immediately called the police, but was told that no cars were available as all the patrol vehicles were needed to ensure the security of the country's leaders during the holidays.
When she tried to contact the police again later in order to get a report filed, she was told that a patrol had already come and gone and not made any detentions. Upon further questioning, she was told by a police officer to "submit a complaint at her place of employment," apparently an allusion to her work for Radio Azatlyk.
TIHR says Achilova has lived under pressure from the authorities for many years.
Other stringers for RFE/RL have also suffered attacks by unknown persons, such as Gurbandurdy Durdykuliev, whose windows were also recently broken. Police confiscated his passport last year and without it, he is unable to claim a disability pension. Durdykuliev was forcibly placed in a psychiatric clinic in February 2004, and released in 2006, after a petition by U.S. members of Congress.
Allamourad Rakhimov, a Canadian citizen and Prague-based RFE/RL broadcaster and native of Turkmenistan, was deported when he attempted to travel to his homeland last year.
Yet another correspondent, Osman Hallyeva, as suffered death threats and his relatives have all lost their jobs. Two years ago he reported that his phone line has been cut and he has been placed under what amounts to house arrest.
In September 2006, Ogulsapar Muradova, a correspondent for RFE/RL's Turkmen Service, died in custody. She had been detained in June with other civic activists who had worked on a film about Turkmenistan. Human rights group believe Muradova, who was in good health at the time of her arrest, was tortured and killed in prison for her work.