Attack on elderly woman sparks calls to end persecution of activists' families
The elderly mother of a human rights defender was targeted in a despicable attack on 28th October. The attack comes as further evidence that there is scant room for critical voices or any form of dissent in Turkmenistan. The Monitor's current rating for the country is 'closed', reflecting the government's ongoing suppression of civic space to such an extent that most human rights groups have been forced to work in exile. Even activists working outside the country face harassment, threats and intimidation. CIVICUS Monitor research partner - International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) - has joined its voice with the Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights (TIHR), the Rights and Freedoms of the Citizens of Turkmenistan and Memorial Human Rights Centre in calling on the government to end its persecution of activists and their family members, many of whom remain in the country.
On the evening of 28th October, the 76-year old mother of a TIHR activist-in-exile had bricks and stones thrown at her windows. The projectiles damaged several windows, and though the victim Khalida Izbastinova was physically unharmed in the attack, she was very shaken and disturbed by the incident. The attackers thus far remain unknown; however, in a statement on the attack, IPHR Director Brigitte Dufour declared:
“There is little doubt that this appalling attack on the mother of our colleague and friend was retaliation for his legitimate human rights work. The Turkmenistani authorities must ensure that it is promptly, thoroughly and impartially investigated with a view to bringing those responsible to justice”.