Turkmen Rights Activists Gain Entry to OSCE Meeting in Vienna
Two Turkmen human rights activists who were denied registration to the Vienna Review Conference of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) due to objections from Ashgabat were finally admitted to the meeting today after protests from Western diplomats, the activists told EurasiaNet via email.
The delegation of Turkmenistan, headed by Ambassador Esen Aydogdyev, subsequently walked out in protest.
Farid Tuhbatullin, head of the Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights (TIHR), and Nurmukhammet Hanamov, founder of the Republican Party, who both live in exile in Vienna, said their applications were finally accepted, along with Lamija Muzurovic, a TIHR staff person. Another activist, Annadurdy Hajiev, co-founder of the Turkmen Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights told EurasiaNet that he understood his registration was also accepted for the Vienna meeting, but he had other commitments and did not travel to Austria.
The registration of the Turkmen dissidents was watched closely by diplomats and NGOs as a sign of what conditions might be like in Astana in late November and early December, when Kazakhstan, currently the chair-in-office, convenes the OSCE summit, the first in 11 years.
Non-governmental groups are hoping to organize parallel events, but have had concerns about the delays or denials of registration experienced by some individuals and the Kazakh government's recent cancellation of hotel space booked by a group of NGOs hoping to stage an alternative conference.
Turkmenistan has threatened to boycott the summit in Astana if Turkmen human rights activists are admitted to OSCE review meetings.
Tuhbatullin was recently targeted with threats that sources who requested anonymity said came from Turkmenistan's Ministry of National Security. The activist says that the Austrian police are now maintaining a patrol outside his home and office.