U.S. Department of State
Press Statement by James B. Foley, Deputy Spokesman
Turkmenistan: Amnesty Excludes Prisoners of Conscience
On February 16 the Government of Turkmenistan announced the release of 1,553 prisoners as part of a presidential amnesty honoring President Saparmurat Niyazov's 60th birthday and Turkmen national Flag Day on February 19. The amnesty failed to include political prisoners Mukhammet Aimuradov, Dr. Pirimguli Tanrykuliev, and prisoner of conscience Shageldy Atakov, despite international appeals for their release. The United States is also concerned about the fate of Nurberdy Nurmamedov, arrested in January but not yet brought to trial. Members of a U.S. government delegation to Ashgabat raised the plight of these prisoners in discussions last week with Turkmen officials.
President Niyazov's failure to release these political prisoners is further evidence of his government's repression of freedom of expression and civil rights. The United States calls upon the Turkmen government to fulfill its international commitments to introduce freedom of speech and rule of law in Turkmenistan.
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