Self-Exiled Turkmen Opposition Activist In Turkish Custody Facing Deportation Starts Hunger Strike

 A self-exiled Turkmen opposition activist who was detained by Turkish authorities at Ashgabat's request has reportedly started a hunger strike.

The Bulgarian-based Turkmen Helsinki Foundation (THF) said on October 25that Akhmet Rahmanov began his hunger strike three days previously.

"I hope to attract the international community's attention to the mass violation of the human rights of Turkmenistan's citizens at home and abroad," Rahmanov told the THF in a deportation center in Tuzla near Istanbul.

The THF said earlier that the 47-year-old Rahmanov went incommunicado on October 18 after he visited a migration office in the southwestern Turkish city of Antalya to prolong his residence permit.

A day later, Rahmanov's friends were informed that he had been placed in a deportation center. Rahmanov has been a longtime administrator of the opposition Democratic Choice of Turkmenistan movement's online chat page.

He has also been critical of authoritarian President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov and his government on YouTube and programs aired by RFE/RL's Turkmen Service.

Turkmen activists residing in Turkey have faced increased pressure from Turkish law enforcement officials in recent months, while their families at home have also come under close scrutiny from local authorities.

Since last year, protests against Berdymukhammedov have been staged by Turkmen citizens residing in Turkey, the United States, and Northern Cyprus.

Government critics and human rights groups say Berdymukhammedov has suppressed dissent and made few changes in the restrictive country since he came to power after the death of autocrat Saparmurat Niyazov in 2006.

Last week, the THF quoted the wife of another Turkmen opposition activist, Kamil Abulov, who resides in Turkey, as saying that her husband had been detained and placed in a deportation center. 

The Turkish police revealed to Abulov's wife that the Turkmen government has asked Ankara to arrest and deport 28 Turkmen citizens, THF said. 

Abulov, 35, was detained briefly in early August after Turkmen activists tried to stage a protest in front of the Turkmen Consulate in Istanbul.



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