HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES IN TURKMENISTAN; Congressional Record Vol. 152, No. 124
(Extensions of Remarks - September 28, 2006)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E1875]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                  HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES IN TURKMENISTAN

                                 ______
                                 

                       HON. CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH

                             of new jersey

                    in the house of representatives

                     Wednesday, September 27, 2006

  Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, as Co-Chairman of the U.S. 
Helsinki Commission and Vice Chairman of the House International 
Relations Committee, today I introduce this resolution on systemic 
human rights violations in Turkmenistan. Freedom House recently ranked 
Turkmenistan as one of the most repressive countries in the world. 
Along with cosponsors Representative Joseph R. Pitts and Representative 
Mike McIntyre, we seek to put the Government of Turkmenistan on notice 
that these policies must change and that the Congress expects 
improvements in human rights observance and democratization.
  The human rights situation in Turkmenistan remains abysmal. According 
to the State Department's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, 
``Turkmenistan is an authoritarian state dominated by president-for-
life Saparmurat Niyazov. . . . The government continued to commit 
serious abuses and its human rights record remained extremely poor.''
  Turkmenistan is a one-party state with all three branches of 
government controlled by President Niyazov, who was made ``president-
for-life'' by the rubber-stamp People's Council in 2003. No opposition 
is allowed and the state promotes a cult of personality around 
President Niyazov, the self-proclaimed ``Turkmenbashi''--the father of 
all Turkmen. His likeness is on every public building and the currency. 
Authorities require that his self-styled spiritual guidebook, the 
Rukhnama, be taught in all schools and places of work.
  There are consistent reports of security officials physically 
abusing, torturing and forcing confessions from individuals involved in 
political opposition or human rights advocacy. The regime also 
continues the dreadful Soviet practice of using psychiatric hospitals 
to jail dissidents.
  In August, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty correspondent Ogulsapar 
Muradova and two Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation members were 
sentenced to 6 and 7 years of imprisonment, respectively, for their 
involvement in a documentary about Turkmenistan. Sadly, Muradova died 
while in custody just three weeks later.
  The resolution therefore urges President Niyazov to, among other 
things, conduct a thorough investigation into the death of Muradova, 
free all political/religious prisoners, provide ICRC access to all 
Turkmen prisons, and allow peaceful political opposition parties to 
operate freely. The resolution also lays out recommended steps for U.S. 
action, should the government not improve respect for democratization, 
freedom of movement, human rights and religious freedoms.
  The abuses don't end with repressive actions against dissidents and 
reporters. Niyazov is also reportedly diverting billions of dollars of 
state funds into his personal off-shore accounts. The ``father of all 
Turkmen'' is pillaging his country and jeopardizing the future of its 
citizens.
  Consequently, the resolution urges the Government of Turkmenistan to 
``end the diversion of state funds into President Niyazov's personal 
offshore accounts, and adopt international best practices as laid forth 
by the International Monetary Fund regarding the disclosure and 
management of oil and gas revenues.'' In addition, the resolution urges 
the U.S. Government to encourage companies dealing in Turkmen gas to 
increase transparency, and to encourage the European Union and other 
countries not to enter into trade agreements with Turkmenistan until 
the ``government demonstrates a commitment to implementing basic norms 
of fiscal transparency.'' To further demonstrate the level of 
Congressional concern regarding the misappropriation of state 
resources, the resolution recommends the U.S. Government issue ``a 
report on the personal assets and wealth of President Niyazov.''
  In closing, Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this resolution is to bring 
to the attention of the Congress and the world the appalling human 
rights record of the Government of Turkmenistan. The resolution is 
timely, as the European Parliament will soon consider an enhanced trade 
relationship with Turkmenistan. I hope this resolution will be a 
catalyst for change and that President Niyazov will initiate serious 
and far-reaching reforms.

                          ____________________




[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E1875]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                  HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES IN TURKMENISTAN

                                 ______
                                 

                       HON. CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH

                             of new jersey

                    in the house of representatives

                     Wednesday, September 27, 2006

  Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, as Co-Chairman of the U.S. 
Helsinki Commission and Vice Chairman of the House International 
Relations Committee, today I introduce this resolution on systemic 
human rights violations in Turkmenistan. Freedom House recently ranked 
Turkmenistan as one of the most repressive countries in the world. 
Along with cosponsors Representative Joseph R. Pitts and Representative 
Mike McIntyre, we seek to put the Government of Turkmenistan on notice 
that these policies must change and that the Congress expects 
improvements in human rights observance and democratization.
  The human rights situation in Turkmenistan remains abysmal. According 
to the State Department's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, 
``Turkmenistan is an authoritarian state dominated by president-for-
life Saparmurat Niyazov. . . . The government continued to commit 
serious abuses and its human rights record remained extremely poor.''
  Turkmenistan is a one-party state with all three branches of 
government controlled by President Niyazov, who was made ``president-
for-life'' by the rubber-stamp People's Council in 2003. No opposition 
is allowed and the state promotes a cult of personality around 
President Niyazov, the self-proclaimed ``Turkmenbashi''--the father of 
all Turkmen. His likeness is on every public building and the currency. 
Authorities require that his self-styled spiritual guidebook, the 
Rukhnama, be taught in all schools and places of work.
  There are consistent reports of security officials physically 
abusing, torturing and forcing confessions from individuals involved in 
political opposition or human rights advocacy. The regime also 
continues the dreadful Soviet practice of using psychiatric hospitals 
to jail dissidents.
  In August, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty correspondent Ogulsapar 
Muradova and two Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation members were 
sentenced to 6 and 7 years of imprisonment, respectively, for their 
involvement in a documentary about Turkmenistan. Sadly, Muradova died 
while in custody just three weeks later.
  The resolution therefore urges President Niyazov to, among other 
things, conduct a thorough investigation into the death of Muradova, 
free all political/religious prisoners, provide ICRC access to all 
Turkmen prisons, and allow peaceful political opposition parties to 
operate freely. The resolution also lays out recommended steps for U.S. 
action, should the government not improve respect for democratization, 
freedom of movement, human rights and religious freedoms.
  The abuses don't end with repressive actions against dissidents and 
reporters. Niyazov is also reportedly diverting billions of dollars of 
state funds into his personal off-shore accounts. The ``father of all 
Turkmen'' is pillaging his country and jeopardizing the future of its 
citizens.
  Consequently, the resolution urges the Government of Turkmenistan to 
``end the diversion of state funds into President Niyazov's personal 
offshore accounts, and adopt international best practices as laid forth 
by the International Monetary Fund regarding the disclosure and 
management of oil and gas revenues.'' In addition, the resolution urges 
the U.S. Government to encourage companies dealing in Turkmen gas to 
increase transparency, and to encourage the European Union and other 
countries not to enter into trade agreements with Turkmenistan until 
the ``government demonstrates a commitment to implementing basic norms 
of fiscal transparency.'' To further demonstrate the level of 
Congressional concern regarding the misappropriation of state 
resources, the resolution recommends the U.S. Government issue ``a 
report on the personal assets and wealth of President Niyazov.''
  In closing, Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this resolution is to bring 
to the attention of the Congress and the world the appalling human 
rights record of the Government of Turkmenistan. The resolution is 
timely, as the European Parliament will soon consider an enhanced trade 
relationship with Turkmenistan. I hope this resolution will be a 
catalyst for change and that President Niyazov will initiate serious 
and far-reaching reforms.

                          ____________________