Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan: New internet restrictions, new cases of persecution of outspoken activists

During the reporting period, the government continued to claim that Turkmenistan was COVID-19 free, although independent sources have reported that the pandemic has taken a serious toll in the country. As part of their efforts to cover up the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, the authorities made new attempts to track down medical workers sharing COVID-19 related information with exile-based outlets, which provide independent coverage of the situation in Turkmenistan. At the same time, President Berdymukhammedov attracted worldwide attention with his claim [https://www.rferl.org/a/turkmen-president-suggests-licorice-might-hold-the-answer-to-curing-covid-19/31028095.html] that liquorice might hold the answer to the cure for COVID-19 and ordered national scientists to work on a medicine based on this plant. Read more

Turkmenistan: New internet restrictions, new cases of persecution of outspoken activists

While insisting it’s COVID-19 free, Turkmenistan renews efforts to clamp down on dissent

Turkmenistan’s government continued its policy of COVID-19 denial, claiming that the global pandemic had not reached the country, although independent Turkmenistan-covering outlets reported about a growing number of coronavirus infections. The authorities continued to use national, state-controlled media for propaganda purposes, while restricting access to foreign sources of information. Amid growing criticism of Turkmenistan’s government both on- and offline in recent months, the authorities continued to put pressure on outspoken activists living abroad, their relatives in Turkmenistan, and local residents suspected of ties with such activists. The reporting period also saw several new spontaneous protests initiated by residents of Turkmenistan who expressed their resentment at the shortages of basic food items sold at state-subsidised prices, and the shortages of cash at ATMs. Read more

While insisting it’s COVID-19 free, Turkmenistan renews efforts to clamp down on dissent

Wave of protests prompts growing pressure on activists as government continues COVID-19 denial

During the period covered by this update, the government continued to insist that Turkmenistan was a COVID-19 free country, although reports from independent sources pointed to an increase in the outbreak of COVID-19, with hospitals being strained by the influx of people with acute respiratory conditions and a growing number of deaths due to such conditions. The authorities put pressure on doctors to participate in covering up the COVID-19 outbreak and intimidated medical professionals who raised concerns about the lack of adequate resources for the diagnosis and treatment of people with acute respiratory conditions. The authorities stepped up preventive measures in connection with a World Health Organisation (WHO) mission to the country in July 2020. The WHO mission called on the authorities to act as if COVID-19 had begun to spread in the country. However, the experts stopped short of stating that the COVID-19 pandemic was already affecting the country. In a separate development, Turkmenistani citizens living abroad staged a series of peaceful protests against the policies of Turkmenistan’s government, in particular its failure to adequately respond to the COVID-19 outbreak and the devastating hurricane that struck the country in April 2020. The wave of anti-government protests and growing expressions of discontent with the government on social media prompted the Turkmenistani authorities to step up pressure on critical voices. Activists based abroad faced intimidation and harassment both directly and indirectly through their relatives in Turkmenistan. Read more

Wave of protests prompts growing pressure on activists as government continues COVID-19 denial

Government responds to COVID-19 and hurricane with denial, cover-ups and intimidation tactics

As coronavirus (COVID-19) spread across the world, the Turkmenistani government insisted that there were no registered cases of infections in the country, although independent sources reported such cases. Authorities detained and intimidated people who spoke out about COVID-19 related issues in public places and ordered the heads of medical facilities to suppress any discussion about the virus amongst their staff. Another example of the government policy of covering up crises in the country was seen in connection with a devastating hurricane which hit parts of Turkmenistan in late April 2020. State-controlled media largely ignored this natural disaster. Instead of assisting the victims, the authorities went after citizens believed to have shared photos and video clips of the havoc caused by the hurricane with relatives and others living abroad.
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Government responds to COVID-19 and hurricane with denial, cover-ups and intimidation tactics

Increased internet censorship; mass mobilisation for regime-praising events continues

New examples of internet censorship have appeared in Turkmenistan. The global online encyclopedia Wikipedia was blocked in the country after it featured an unflattering description of Turkmenistan’s president, and an increasing number of VPN (Virtual Private Network) apps used to circumvent internet censorship became unavailable. Amid government fears of growing opposition to its policies among Turkmenistani diaspora communities, there were reports of an increasing number of cases in which citizens were arbitrarily barred from leaving the country to work and study abroad. The authorities also continued attempts to cover up socio-economic problems in the country, forced state employees and students to participate in regime-praising events and to help cover the costs associated with such events, at the threat of repercussions. Read more

Increased internet censorship; mass mobilisation for regime-praising events continues

Turkmenistan: The state reinforces propaganda campaigns following rumours of the president’s death

This report reviews the protection of freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly in Turkmenistan from the beginning of July to the beginning of November 2019. International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) and Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights (TIHR) have prepared the report as part of their cooperation with the CIVICUS Monitor. Read more

Turkmenistan: The state reinforces propaganda campaigns following rumours of the president’s death

Turkmenistan attacks the credibility of independent news sources and locks up critics

The authorities of Turkmenistan continue to strictly control the dissemination of information. State media focuses on the supposed well-being of the country and the achievements of its government while ignoring problems affecting the everyday life of residents such as the lack of basic foodstuffs and life-saving medicines in the context of the current economic crisis. Read more

Turkmenistan attacks the credibility of independent news sources and locks up critics

The EU adopts important benchmarks, as repression continues in Turkmenistan

This report reviews the protection of freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly in Turkmenistan from the end of December 2018 to the end of March 2019. International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) and Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights (TIHR) have prepared it for the CIVICUS Monitor. Read more

The EU adopts important benchmarks, as repression continues in Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan: The State denies bread lines and suppresses information about crisis

This update covers developments relating to the protection of freedom of expression, association and assembly in Turkmenistan from October to December 2018. International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) and Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights (TIHR) have prepared it for the CIVICUS Monitor based on TIHR’s monitoring of the situation in the Central Asian country. Read more

Turkmenistan: The State denies bread lines and suppresses information about crisis

Turkmenistan: The state restricts fundamental rights to cover up crisis

As the serious economic crisis continues in Turkmenistan, the authorities try to cover up its impact by rigidly controlling state media, preventing citizens from accessing foreign sources of information and intimidating those who dare to speak out. Read more

Turkmenistan: The state restricts fundamental rights to cover up crisis