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Director-General voices grave concern at the death in jail of Turkmen journalist Ogulsapar Muradova

19-09-2006 (Paris)
The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, today voiced grave concern at the death of Ogulsapar Muradova in jail in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.
“I am gravely concerned about the death of Ogulsapar Muradova,” the Director-General said. “I trust that the Turkmen authorities will investigate the circumstances of Ms Muradova’s death. In the event of foul play, it is essential that those responsible be brought to trial.”
Mr Matsuura added: “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.”

According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Ms Muradova’s children identified Ms Muradova’s body in the morgue of Ashgabat on 14 September. Witnesses are reported to have seen a head wound and many other marks on the rest of her body, according to RSF.

Ms Muradova, 58, a former correspondent of US radio stations Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, had been sentenced to six years in prison in late August alongside two other human rights activists. The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty voiced serious concern about her trial which was held behind closed doors.

UNESCO is the only United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. Article 1 of its Constitution requires the Organization to “further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations.” To realize this purpose the Organization is required to “collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image…”
Related themes/countries

      · Turkmenistan
      · Freedom of Expression: News Archives 2006
      · Press Freedom: News Archives 2006
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