Letter to Hillary Clinton

The Honorable Hillary Clinton
Secretary of State of the United States of America
RE: OSCE Parallel Conference

November 29, 2010

Dear Secretary Clinton,

We, representatives of Turkmen civil society, are writing to you because we are unable to attend the civil society conference that has been organized for November 28-29,2010 parallel to the OSCE Summit in Astana, Kazakhstan. As you know, the governments of Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan have made it virtually impossible for us to attend the meeting. Representatives have been threatened and warned not to attend the conference or risk personal harm. Therefore we are writing to you instead, and are grateful for the opportunity to be heard.
During the past year we have seen unprecedented repression against Turkmen civil society and human rights activists, and we are asking for your assistance. We are fighting for our very existence as our government wages an active campaign against civil society and the principles of democracy. We activists have been threatened with physical harm, imprisoned, beaten, placed under house arrest, discredited, and expelled from our country. Even when abroad, we are not safe from risk. We are forced to work completely underground as our basic human rights to freedom of speech and assembly have been ignored by our government.

The Turkmen government is leading a trend throughout Central Asia toward greater authoritarian rule and away from democracy.

We believe the OSCE and other international mechanisms have failed to properly address the serious human rights concerns facing the citizens of Turkmenistan and the other Central Asian countries.

We are asking for your assistance in assuring that the OSCE and, in particular, its offices in the Central Asian countries, renew its commitment to operating as a mechanism to ensure and strengthen democracy by taking a principled stance on the fundamental principles on which the OSCE was founded.
In Turkmenistan, this includes:

  • Conducting ongoing monitoring on the status of democracy and human rights in Turkmenistan, and publishing regular reports that evaluate the situation;
  • Including Turkmen and international human rights and other civil society activists in this monitoring;
  • Revisiting the results of the “Moscow Mechanism”, which Turkmenistan adopted in 2003;
  • Initiating an open and public dialogue with the authorities on the fate of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, particularly in cases in which they have simply disappeared.

We ask you, as Secretary of State of the United States, to reconfirm the expectation that the principles of democracy and fulfillment of fundamental freedoms are the basis of security everywhere—including in Turkmenistan.

We are standing at a crossroads and the OSCE has an opportunity to recommit itself to the principles of democracy in Turkmenistan, or it can continue to sit on its hands while the Turkmen government dismantles the final vestiges of civil society in our country.

We urge you to speak on our behalf, and to defend the principles of democracy, freedom of speech and the right to assembly, on which the United States was founded.

Respectfully yours,
19 civil society activists from Turkmenistan