Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights

ti.jpgA letter and press release from the Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights 

Dear colleagues,

Despite the change of power, Turkmenistan remains closed to the outside world. It is quite difficult to obtain independent and unbiased information from the country. Nevertheless, Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights (TIHR) continues to perform the function of an independent non-governmental information agency. We monitor the human rights situation in the country and disseminate exclusive data on the latest developments and everyday life of the Turkmen residents. Our news (available in English and Russian) and photos are published on a daily basis on the web-site “Chronicles of Turkmenistan“.

The information we receive is subject to no censorship, on the contrary, we strive to defend the right to the freedom of speech and self-expression. Today the Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights is launching a new project. It will be implemented in the framework of supporting the right to freedom of self-expression. The first episode of the new animated cartoon serial, devoted to the Turkmen politicians is available at “TurkmenDissidentTV”  (http://www.youtube.com/user/TurkmenDissidentTV).

TIHR is kindly asking you to recommend our web-resources (as beneficent help to our organization to support its activities) to your colleagues, friends and everybody who expresses interest in Turkmenistan’s issues and the overall situation in the region. We are committed to reaching as broad an audience as possible and bringing to its attention our materials on the events occurring in the post-Niyazov Turkmenistan.   

Thank you in advance for your interest.

Farid Tuhbatullin

Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights

Dempschergasse 17/12, A-1180, Vienna, Austria, tel: +43 1 944 1327, 

E-mail: Turkmenistan_initiative@yahoo.com, Web-site: http://www.chrono-tm.org/

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Press-release of the Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights

27 January 2008

On the liquidation of private satellite aerials by Turkmen authorities

The Turkmen authorities have commenced the dismantling of private satellite aerials in the densely-populated areas of Ashgabat under the pretext of «improving the image of the city». A set of fixed programs from satellite television broadcast by cable networks is offered by the authorities as an alternative.

In fact, the authorities of Turkmenistan have taken on the responsibility of identifying which satellite channels can be included in the set of programs broadcast and which not. No additional services to broaden the spectrum of broadcast satellite channels are considered by the authorities. No single news channel has been included in the package offered and preference has been given mostly to entertainment channels.

The package broadcast by the authorities does not provide for the broadcasting of radio channels which are very popular in Turkmenistan, such as Radio Liberty, Voice of America, BBC and Deutsche Welle, ВВС, Mayak Radio, etc. Up until now, these channels were received unrestrictedly via individual satellite aerials.

By restricting the right of the citizens to any choice, the Turkmen authorities have taken on the responsibility of determining the admissible spectrum of information available to the Turkmen people. Due to this, this move of the authorities should be considered merely as an encroachment upon the right to access to information. Even the former President of Turkmenistan Saparmurat Niyazov (under his reign, Turkmenistan was amongst those countries where the rights to access and disseminate information are most violated in the world along with Burma, North Korea, Belarus and Kuba) did not dare to ban individual satellite aerials.

The Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights calls the attention of the Turkmen authorities to the unacceptability of the given approach to solving problems related to the «exterior look of the towns in the country» and urges the authorities to stop dismantling satellite aerials until decisions acceptable for the society and incorporating the public opinion of Turkmenistanis are found which do not limit the rights of each citizen.

The Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights encourages international organizations to maintain a dialogue with Turkmen authorities in order to avoid any violation of the citizens` rights to access information.

Note: Only four state channels are broadcast in Turkmenistan. Most broadcasting is limited to propagandistic, «patriotic» and pseudo-ethnic programs. News blocks which are broadcast by all channels simultaneously, are devoted exclusively to the internal events happening in Turkmenistan and contain mostly official reporting. Delivery of foreign printed mass media to private individuals in Turkmenistan is still banned by the authorities. The Internet in Turkmenistan is controlled by the state monopoly Turkmentelekom; most of the websites publishing information on Turkmenistan are blocked.

Individual satellite aerials offer an average of 300-350 tele- and radio channels.  The package of programs broadcast by cable networks which is offered by the authorities includes 20-30 programs..

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