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Turkmenistan8 December 2006

French Festival Awards Prize To TV Documentary For Which Three Turkmen Journalists Paid With Their Freedom And One With Their Life

Reporters Without Borders today hailed the prize that was awarded at the International Scoop and Journalism Festival in Angers on 20 November to a French documentary about Turkmenistan, the making of which led to the imprisonment of three Turkmen journalists and the death of one of them in detention.

Focusing on President Separmurad Nyazov’s personality cult and entitled “Turkmenistan: welcome to Nyazovland,” the documentary was made by Catherine Berthillier for the Galaxie Presse production company and was broadcast as part of the “Envoyé Spécial” series on the France 2 television channel on 28 September.

“These exclusive pictures of Turkmenistan exposed the terrible plight of the Turkmen people, and the regime of terror and indoctrination to which they are constantly subjected,” Reporters Without Borders said.

“We would like to pay tribute to the three people who helped Berthillier make this film: Ogulsapar Muradova, a Radio Free Europe journalist and human rights activist, and her two fellow journalists and human rights activists, Annakurban Amanklychev and Sapardurdy Khajiyev. They assisted the production when Berthillier was in Turkmenistan and they continued to film after she left. They paid for this with their freedom. One of them paid for it with her life.”

Reporters Without Borders added: “Every means must be used to denounce Turkmenistan’s appalling dictatorship and the companies that support it. The international community has an important role to play. Now, since 29 November, Nyazov has been demanding a monthly report on all the foreigners entering and leaving Turkmen and those who violate the conditions of their stay.”

Muradova, Amanklychev and Khajiyev were arrested during a three-day period from 16 to 18 June and were convicted of “illegal possession of ammunition” at a summary trial on 25 August. Muradova was given a six-year sentence. Amanklychev and Khajiyev got seven years. We learned on 14 September that Muradova had died under torture.

Amanklychev and Khajiyev are being held incommunicado. Their relatives have been told they cannot visit them because they are “special cases, so they have no idea what condition they are in. The relatives have themselves been harassed and some of them have lost their jobs.

Reporters Without Borders established a system of sponsorship 16 years ago in which international media are encouraged to adopt imprisoned journalists. More than 200 news organisations throughout the world are currently supporting journalists by regularly calling on the authorities to release them and by publicising their cases. Amanklychev has been adopted by the France 2 programme “Envoyé Spécial,” the Oise General Council, the Charleroi House of the Press, Vlan (Liège), Télépro, the Liège House of the Press, NRJ radio (Belgium) and

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