Turkmen Activist Admitted to OSCE Review Conference
A Turkmen activist who has been waiting for two and a half days to gain admission to the Review Conference of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Warsaw this week, has finally been registered and permitted to enter the session. The moderator announced the success of his petition from the floor of the meeting.
Annadurdy Hajiev, co-founder of the Turkmen Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights and former deputy chairman of the Bank of Turkmenistan who has obtained political asylum in Bulgaria, had earlier been denied admission when he arrived in Warsaw on Monday, although he had pre-registered.
A second activist, Nurmuhammet Hanamov, who had first attempted to register on Monday, is still awaiting resolution of his request, but is optimistic. Hanamov, founding chairman of the Republican Party of Turkmenistan in exile now resides in Vienna.
The U.S. and EU, joined by Canada and Norway, repeatedly raised the denial of the Turkmen activists as a point of order for the Review Conference proceedings, and also protested to the OSCE chair-in-office, currently Kazakhstan. When delegates from the Kazakh delegation were asked to intervene for the Turkmens, they declined, saying the matter had to be resolved by the OSCE Secretary General, citing an agreement the member states had made about modalities in July 2010.
Western diplomats were concerned that the rejection of the two activists, who had been coming to OSCE human rights meetings without hindrance for some years, would set a bad precedent and open up the door to arbitrary rejections by various states unhappy with their domestic critics at the conference.
Some ambassadors from the Commonwealth of Independent States remain concerned that Turkmenistan would still make good on a threat indicated in a note verbale to the Kazakh chair earlier this week that if the activists were admitted, Ashgabat would not take part in the OSCE summit in Astana in December.
Turkmenistan's seat is empty at this conference, as it has been for some years, in a sign of protest against the admission of NGOs critical of its violations of human rights.