Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2003 - Turkmenistan

Harassment of Mrs. Natalia Shabunts70

On 27th May 2003, members of the Civil Dignity NGO participated in a meeting with representatives from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Achkhabad. In the presence of Mr. Martti Ahtisaari, representative of the OSCE president for Central Asia, Mrs. Natalia Shabunts, president of Civil Dignity, intervened to denounce the human rights situation in Turkmenistan and the government's current nationalistic tendencies. She particularly mentioned that the principal obstacle encountered by NGOs in Turkmenistan was not finding funds, but being able to independently conduct their activities.

On 28th May 2003, Mrs. Shabunts' building stayed under the surveillance of three security services vehicles for the entire day. Around 7 p.m., when she was leaving her home to attend a dinner organised by the OSCE, four security services agents attempted to arrest her. Mrs. Shabunts managed to escape, found refuge in her apartment, and alerted her friends of the situation. The agents remained in front of her building until after 11 p.m. Mrs. Shabunts was apparently under surveillance since 26th May 2003, the date Mr. Martti Ahtisaari arrived.

Since 2001, Civil Dignity has been under surveillance by the secret services, which have on numerous occasions prevented or disrupted conferences organised by Mrs. Shabunts.

[Refworld note: This report as posted on the FIDH website (www.fidh.org) was in pdf format with country chapters run together by region. Footnote numbers have been retained here, so do not necessarily begin at 1.]

70. See Urgent Appeal TKM 001/0603/OBS 027.


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