OSCE Asks Turkmenistan To Prove They Are Alive

On July 2, 2014, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly adopted its Baku Declaration, in which it specifically asks the Government of Turkmenistan to provide information on persons who have disappeared in Turkmen prisons, including Boris Shikhmuradov and Batyr Berdiev.

The Prove They Are Alive! Campaign has documented over 60 cases of enforced disappearances in the Turkmen prisons, the majority of which are related to the alleged coup attempt of 2002 in Turkmenistan. For over 10 years, relatives, the public, and international organizations have been unable to obtain any information about the fates of these individuals.

The Baku Declaration highlights this grave situation in several key paragraphs. Paragraph 108 of the Declaration expresses concern for the disappeared and their families, who have not received any information about their loved ones for over a decade. Paragraph 125 emphasizes that the OSCE should reduce its reliance on consensus, and instead strengthen mechanisms that protect human rights and monitor gross human rights violations, such as the Moscow Mechanism. The Moscow Mechanism was initiated with regard to Turkmenistan after the November 2002 events, and resulted in a comprehensive report by Professor Emmanuel Decaux.  Because of Turkmenistan's rejection of the Moscow Mechanism process, and subsequent refusal to address the recommendations in Decaux’s report, there has been no progress in the intervening years. Paragraph 134 of the Declaration explicitly asks the Government of Turkmenistan “to provide information on the health and whereabouts of, and access to, persons who have disappeared in Turkmenistan’s prisons, including former Foreign Ministers Boris Shikhmuradov and Batyr Berdiev.”

The Prove They Are Alive! Campaign welcomes such strong language from the OSCE, which signals its renewed commitment to addressing enforced disappearances in Turkmenistan and strengthening its wider role in protecting human rights in the region. We strongly urge the OSCE Ministers to incorporate these views and recommendations on Turkmenistan toward the outcomes of its next Ministerial Council, to be held in Basel, Switzerland, December 4-5, 2014. The time has come for the truth to be told.