Target: Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, President of Turkmenistan
Goal: Prevent the destruction of up to 18,000 homes in Turkmenistan’s capital.
Thousands of families were recently presented with a terrible choice: destroy their own homes or watch them be destroyed by authorities. The families in the Choganly neighborhood of northern Ashgabat will receive no compensation or alternative land or accommodations. Sign the petition and demand a stop to this illegal and incredibly cruel process.
The push to rid the neighborhood of its people and dwellings can be connected to two factors: Ashgabat’s general urban development project, which aims to modernize the city by replacing houses with apartment blocks, and the upcoming Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, which will be held in the city in 2017.
Authorities claim that the dwellings currently in the Choganly neighborhood were either built illegally or were intended as vacation dwellings, which prohibits their residents from receiving compensation or alternative living arrangements from the state. Despite this, other sources claim that most of the people living in Choganly use their homes there as their primary, if not only, residences. To add insult to injury, some of the people living in Choganly were relocated there by authorities after having been forcibly evicted from other sections of the city.
International human rights standards dictate that authorities must give residents adequate notice of their eviction and must provide them with alternative means of accommodation. One human rights group has received reports that those who complained about the evictions have been harassed by authorities.
The destruction of up to 18,000 homes is neither modern nor ethical. Sign the petition and urge authorities in Ashgabat to think twice about the destruction of the Choganly neighborhood.
Dear President Berdymukhamedov,
I am writing to demand justice for the residents of the up to 18,000 homes set to be destroyed in the Choganly neighborhood of Ashgabat. These forced evictions are in direct violation of a number of international human rights standards and laws, and I urge you to reconsider the entire undertaking–or, at the very least, provide adequate accommodation and compensation to those displaced by the project.
The destruction of the Choganly neighborhood is cruel, and such a large displacement of the population will undoubtedly have far-reaching effects on the city and its people. To add insult to injury, many of the area’s residents only live in Choganly because they were relocated there after being forced out of other sections of Ashgabat.
How can the government move someone to a new location and then claim that the person is illegally occupying that space? How can the government refuse to compensate any of the up to 18,000 families of Choganly for their land and property? How can it fail to provide displaced residents with even a suggestion of alternative accommodations?
The short answer is, it can’t. Turkmenistan is party to a number of international treaties that prohibit such actions, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which does not allow states to engage in forced evictions.
I urge you to fall into line with the standards set by the international community. Do not go forward with forced evictions in Choganly or, at the very least, ensure that all residents are compensated and have access to alternative, permanent, and comparable living situations.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: cercamon via Flickr