Inquiry on measures taken to provide the inhabitants of Ashgabat with legal protection and safeguards against forced evictions

Open Letter
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Open letter addressed to Mayor of Aşgabat, Myratniyaz Abilov.

Dear Mr. Abilov,

Following our letter dated 18 December 2015 urging your administration to take urgent action to remedy the consequences of forced evictions in Aşgabat, we would like to inquire about measures taken to ensure the rights of residents affected by the destruction of 30 000 buildings in Choganly and Shor dacha neighbourhoods and on Chekhov Street.

According to information received by the Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights and FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights), forced evictions started in March 2015, impacting the livelihood of roughly one hundred thousand inhabitants who were not offered any alternative housing solution thus leaving them homeless.

We would like to reiterate our deepest concern as these actions violate the right to adequate housing protected under the UN Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to which Turkmenistan is a party. The said Covenant stipulates that the authorities must consult and give reasonable notice to affected communities and offer adequate alternative housing.

We kindly request to remedy the consequences of forced evictions and provide us with the information about the current state of affairs, in particular on:

Adequate remedies, including relocation and compensation, that the city administration provided to the communities affected by illegal evictions. According to our information, only a small part of the affected residents obtained apartments as a compensation for demolished property, leaving the majority without any compensation or information concerning indemnity.
Steps taken by the city administration to prevent similar future violations of the right to housing that would ensure consultation with affected communities, reasonable notice about future demolitions and provision of alternative housing.
Measures taken to ensure protection of residents’ right to appeal decisions on eviction without risking being harassed or intimidated.
City administration territorial development plans ahead of the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games.

We urge you to ensure that the territorial plan of the games site is made accessible to the general public and in particular to communities that might be affected by the upcoming construction site. Any future demolitions must be carried out by providing legal protection and safeguards against forced evictions as established by the UN treaties to which Turkmenistan is a party.

Yours sincerely,

Karim Lahidji, FIDH President

Farid Tuhbatullin, Chairman of the Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights

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