Turkmenistan: President Urged To Continue Moving Forward On Human Rights

Click here: RadioFreeEurope – Turkmenistan: President Urged To Continue Moving Forward On Human Rights

September 27, 2007 (RFE/RL) — Those who expected any pledges of political liberalization in Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov’s address to the United Nations must have been disappointed. In his first-ever speech at the UN General Assembly session on September 26, the Turkmen president addressed a number of issues, but human rights was not among them.

Earlier this week, however, Berdymukhammedov faced tough questions on human rights from students at New York’s Columbia University. He reiterated his promise to amnesty thousands of prisoners in early October. Some 9,000 prisoners are expected to be pardoned on the eve of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan’s Laylat ul-Qadr, or Night of Power, which falls on October 10 this year….Bairam Shikhmuradov says the release of the political prisoners is a genuine step toward a political liberalization in the country.

“I strongly object to those who have said this step by President Berdymukhammedov was only window-dressing,” he says. “Eleven people were in prison for some five years. They were tortured there. God knows what else they experienced. And those people returned home. It is not just window-dressing. It is a real act. It is the first step the new authorities have taken in order to put an end to Turkmenistan’s catastrophic human-rights situation.”

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