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Concern Over Death Of Journalist In Turkmenistan

Unesco Chief Voices ‘Grave Concern’ Over Death Of Jailed Journalist In Turkmenistan

New York, Sep 19 2006 11:00AM

The head of the United Nations organization entrusted with defending freedom of expression and the press today voiced “grave concern” over the death in jail of a Turkmen journalist and called on the authorities of the former Soviet Central Asian country to investigate the circumstances and try those responsible in the event of foul play.

“Using force to silence a journalist is an unacceptable crime against an individual, against the basic human right of freedom of expression and against society as a whole, which relies on the media to make informed choices,” UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General Ήoïchiro Matsuura said.

According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the children of Ogulsapar Muradova, 58, a former correspondent of United States stations Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty who was sentenced to six years in prison last month alongside two other human rights activists, identified her body in the morgue of Ashgabat , Turkmenistan’s capital, on 14 September.

Witnesses reported seeing a head wound and many other marks on the rest of her body, RSF said.

Over the weekend, The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) expressed serious concern over Ms Muradova’s death and urged the authorities to launch a full and independent investigation into what happened.
The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty had voiced serious concern about her trial which was held behind closed doors.

UNESCO has a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom, and Mr. Matsuura has issued frequent condemnations of the murder of journalists around the world.

Ends

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