Brussels 18 September 2012. International Partnership for Human Rights, the Netherlands Helsinki Committee and their Central Asian partners have prepared a set of statements for the upcoming OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM) in Warsaw. These statements highlight continued threats to fundamental freedoms in Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, illustrate broader trends with recent examples and provide recommendations to the authorities of the three Central Asian countries, as well as to other OSCE participating States.
HDIM submission on Turkmenistan by Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights, International Partnership for Human Rights and the Netherlands Helsinki Committee:
Turkmenistan remains one of the world’s most hostile countries to freedom of expression.
There are no independent media in the country and state media are tightly controlled and used as outlets for ideological propaganda. Even the broadcasts from the June 2012 European football championships, the first major international sport event ever to have been aired live on Turkmen TV, were used to elevate the president. While state-owned newspapers attract limited interest due to their tedious and low-quality content, authorities superficially inflate subscription rates by requiring state employees to subscribe to them at their own cost.
Internet content is monitored and censored, with foreign news sites, social networks, email services, and online forums being singled out for blocking. The popular Turkmen forum ertir.com, whose users increasingly have commented on politically and religiously related issues in the recent period, was inaccessible most of June 2012.
Individuals who openly criticize official Turkmen policies are subject to intimidation and harassment. Also civil society activists in exile have come in for pressure. The website of Austria-based Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights, which regularly publishes independent reports and analyzes on developments in Turkmenistan, has been subject to more than six cyber attacks only in 2012.