Journalist Soltan Achilova assaulted again

Radio Azatlyk reported that on 9 May 2018 journalist Gurbanoltan Achilova was assaulted at the Eternal Flame memorial in Ashgabat by people in civilian clothes while she was taking photos for a Victory Day report in Turkmenistan.

Gurbanoltan shared some details of the incident with Chronicles of Turkmenistan.

In the morning of 9 May the journalist went to the memorial complex to the victims of World War II People's memory located in the suburbs of Ashgabat where events devoted to Victory Day had started.

Achilova was prevented from approaching the Eternal Flame where students were participating in a flower-laying ceremony and cameramen of the Turkmen television were filming. After she showed her journalists' ID to those who tried to make her leave the venue, she was allowed to observe the ceremony from a designated spot.

All this time Achilova had been taking photos on her own camera.

Later several plainclothes police officers approached her, seized her camera, grabbed her by the arms and forced her inside a white car. They then threatened the journalist with arrest on drug-related charges.

After deleting all the photos they then returned her camera and accompanied her to the bus stop.

Achilova switched on her camera to make sure it worked. Having noticed this, the same people approached her again but did not confiscate the camera when they had made sure she was not taking photos. However, when checking the camera, Gurbansoltan pushed the button and here is the shot she took.

People in civilian clothes waited at the bus stop until Achilova got on the bus and left.

On a regular basis Gurbanoltan Achilova has been subjected to an onslaught of physical assaults and persecution by law enforcement officers and other plain clothes assailants, and her relatives are prevented from exiting the country. Her complaints to various authorities have brought about no results.

At the same time, Turkmenistan's official authorities deny any persecution of or restrictions imposed on the work of independent journalists.

At a hearing of the UN Human Rights Council on Turkmenistan in Geneva on May 7, 2018 Deputy Foreign Minister Vepa Hadjiyev denied all accusations of harassment or persecution against contributors to RFE/RL's Turkmen Service and other websites criticizing the developments in Turkmenistan.

Source: Chronicles of Turkmenistan