WASHINGTON — The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe announced today a forthcoming hearing:
Testifying before the Commission will be:
John Beyrle, Principal Deputy to the Ambassador-at-Large and Special Advisor to the Secretary of State for New Independent States
Avdy Kuliev, Turkmen opposition leader in exile
Pyotr Iwaszkiewicz, formerly of the OSCE Office in Ashgabat
Firuz Kazemzadeh, Member, International Commission of Religious Freedom
Cassandra Cavanaugh, Human Rights Watch/Helsinki
E. Wayne Merry, Atlantic Council of the United States
Turkmenistan’s Ambassador Halil Ugur has been also been invited.
On Tuesday the Helsinki Commission will hold a hearing on Turkmenistan, the most repressive of the New Independent States.
President Niyazov is the subject of a pervasive cult of personality, there is only one registered party, all media are tightly censored, and there are no independent human rights monitoring organizations. Christian denominations have faced official harassment and Turkmen authorities demolished a Seventh-Day Adventist Church in November.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe declined to observe Turkmenistan’s December 1999 parliamentary election, and delegates to the meeting of the People’s Assembly later that month essentially approved making Saparmurat Niyazov “president-for-life.”
In sum, Turkmenistan has become the worst-case scenario of post-Soviet development. With the U.S. Government seeking Ashgabat’s cooperation in constructing a Trans-Caspian gas pipeline, this hearing provides a timely opportunity to discuss the country’s prospects for democratization, fair elections and observance of human rights, and how the United States can promote Turkmenistan’s observance of OSCE commitments.
The hearing is part of an ongoing series convened by the Commission to assess the state of democracy, human rights and the rule of law in the countries of Central Asia.