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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06ASHGABAT998
2006-09-22 13:17:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Ashgabat
Cable title:  

MYRADOVA CASE: HUMAN RIGHTS AND OPPOSITION PRESS

Tags:   PHUM  PGOV  PREL  OSCE  TX 
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FM AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7827
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 0163
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0400
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0332
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 1688
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0404
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1206
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC//DHO-2/REA/NMJIC-J2//
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL//CCJ2/HSE/CCJ5//
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC//J5/RUE//
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ASHGABAT 000998 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR SCA/CEN (PERRY)

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/22/2016
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL OSCE TX
SUBJECT: MYRADOVA CASE: HUMAN RIGHTS AND OPPOSITION PRESS
SPIN CAUSE OF DEATH

REF: A. ASHGABAT 0987


B. ASHGABAT 0983

C. BRUSH-PERRY SEPTEMBER 14 TELCON AND PREVIOUS

Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Jennifer L. Brush for Reasons 1.4 (b)
and (d).

Summary
-------



1. (C) A week after the death in prison of Turkmenistan
journalist Ogulsapar Myradova, the authorities have not
issued an autopsy, and one is not expected for at least
another week. Embassy officers have not talked with any
members of Myradova's family since September 15, and there
are no signs of the family at their home. Most foreign
governments have hewn to a position calling on the Government
of Turkmenistan to make a full and impartial investigation,
but in the absence of any reliable information, opposition
and human rights groups have continued to spin the news,
issuing increasingly sensational reports of Myradova's
injuries. Reporters from non-state-run media attending a
reception September 19 at the Charge's residence were aware
of Myradova's death, and reacted with shock, fear and/or
muted anger. Meanwhile, Ashgabat-based RFE/RL reporter
Halmyrat Gylychdurdyev has reported that authorities are
using threats against family members to try to force him and
Mary-based RFE/RL reporter Meretmuhammet Hommadov to renounce
their RFE/RL contracts. End Summary.

International Community Continues to Push for Investigation


--------------------------



--------------------------





2. (C) One week after the death in prison of previously
little-known journalist Ogulsapar Myradova first became
public, the authorities in Turkmenistan have not issued an
autopsy report, as far as we are aware. In the absence of
any reliable information, the Organization for Security and
Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and the U.S., French and
British governments continue to focus on calling for
Turkmenistan to conduct a full and impartial investigation
into the cause of Myradova's death and to make public those
results. In an exchange during the September 21 meeting of
the OSCE's Permanent Council in Vienna, Turkmenistan's
Ambassador to the OSCE made a rare public statement defending
Turkmenistan's actions along the lines used by Foreign
Minister Meredov with OSCE Center Ambassador Djikic on
September 16 (ref a), i.e., that Myradova was not an
accredited journalist and that her case had been handled in
full compliance with Turkmenistan's law. The UK Ambassador
told Charge September 21 that the EU was contemplating
writing a note of condolence to Myradova's family, which it
might ask U.S. embassy officers (the only members of the
international diplomatic community who know where Myradova's
children live) to deliver.

Myradova's Family Whereabouts Unknown


--------------------------





3. (C) Embassy officers attempted September 22 to call on
Myradova's family in order to deliver a letter of condolence

from the Charge and to inquire after the family's welfare.
Nobody answered the door, and officers could not hear anybody
inside. Embassy officers also saw no signs of a security
presence around the residence.

Opposition and Human Rights Groups Spinning News


--------------------------

---



4. (C) Some international human rights groups,
Turkmenistan's overseas opposition groups and the western
media have been busy spinning -- and, as already reported
refs b and c, not always accurately -- Myradova's death and
the government's treatment of Myradova's family members in
the absence of concrete information. For example, a

ASHGABAT 00000998 002 OF 003


September 21 report by the German Press Agency (Deutsche
Presse Agentur -- DPA), citing a report by Reporters without
Borders on an investigation supposedly carried out by German
radio station Deutsche Welle, claimed that the police autopsy
had revealed a large head wound as well as internal bleeding
in the liver and left kidney. The DPA report also claimed
that Myradova had died at least four days before her death
was made known on September 14. (Note: We are aware of at
least two other stories in which Deutsche Welle reports have
been totally unreliable. End Note.) Central Asia News
claimed September 20 that Myradova's family was not allowed
to see the journalist's body and were only given the body for
burial following the intervention of diplomats and the OSCE
mission. A news website, www.followthemedia.com, claimed on
September 18 that Myradova had head trauma caused by an axe
and strangulation.

Local Media Respond with Shock and Fear


--------------------------





5. (C) It became clear at the Charge's media reception on
September 19 that news of Myradova's death had reached
Turkmenistan's reporters. Attendance at the event was low
and consisted only of journalists not affiliated with
state-run media. (Note: Government surveillance of the
reception reportedly was extremely heavy. End Note.) Most
guests expressed (in varying amounts) shock, fear, sorrow and
muted anger. Although embassy officers did not meet anybody
who claimed to know Myradova as an active journalist, it was
clear that Myradova's fate -- and the recognition that the
same thing could happen to any citizen of Turkmenistan -- was
very much on everybody's mind. A report issued September 21
by Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights played up the event,
claiming that the Charge had been placed in danger by hosting
the event. Embassy learned that representatives of state-run
media, though they been permitted to attend the two prior
media receptions welcoming Public Affairs Officers, were not
permitted to attend the September 19 reception.

New Government Offensive Against RFE/RL Reporters?


--------------------------



--------------------------





6. (C) Ashgabat-based RFE/RL reporter Halmyrat Gylychdurdyev
separately told embassy officers this week that authorities
had stepped up efforts to silence Gylychdurdyev and
Mary-based RFE/RL reporter Meretmuhammet Hommadov. In
Gylychdurdyev's case, the authorities are threatening to
force his 33 year-old son, who so far has successfully
avoided conscription, to serve in Turkmenistan's military
unless Gylychdurdyev signs a statement promising to cease
working for RFE/RL. (Note: The ceiling for conscription
under Turkmenistan's law is 30; we understand that
Turkmenistan's law also exempts only sons of pensioners --
like Gylychdurdyev -- from serving, but Gylychdurdyev's son
may not be covered by these laws if he did not use legal
means to avoid conscription. End Note.) Hommadov is being
told that his son, who was arrested three months ago for a
crime committed five years ago, would be released if he
signed a similar agreement.

Comment


--------------------------





7. (C) While the consistent message from EU, OSCE, the
United States and other international missions and
organizations has been helpful up to now in dampening most
media speculation, we suspect that human rights and
opposition organizations will become increasingly more lurid
until more authoritative reports about Myradova's injuries
are issued. We have no plans to issue any statements here,
but leave to the Department's discretion the advisability of
revising existing press guidance to reflect what we do know
about her injuries, based on personal viewing and photos
taken by embassy officers, e.g, there were no signs of
stangulation. End Comment.

ASHGABAT 00000998 003 OF 003



BRUSH