Guarantee of return and obligation not to participate in political discussions.
Since Turkey introduced a visa regime for Turkmen citizens, the difficulties that Turkmens began to face have increased.
However, according to the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan Vepa Khajyev, who spoke on March 2 at the 137th session of the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva, the purpose of introducing visas to Turkey was allegedly the safety of citizens.
A Turkmenistan who gave his name as Gadam, who arrived from Turkmenistan to Turkey at the end of February, tells what the real goal is. He told bloggers Atamyrad Saparov and Alisher Sakhatov about the difficulties he had to overcome on March 1, 2023 (a shortened semantic version of the conversation is below).
Question: What can you say about the purpose, impact, benefits or harm of introducing this rule?
Gadam: «Do we have problems in our country with the lack of jobs, food prices and corruption? Of course have. Instead of solving them, the authorities are following the path of oppressing people. The best solution for them is a visa.
In fact, their goal is to prevent people from leaving Turkmenistan and their horizons to broaden. The more people go abroad, the greater the danger for the authorities...
According to my estimates, there are 500-600 thousand people in Turkey today. Their age ranges from 20 to 50 years. That is, the flower of the nation is now abroad, in 2-3 years we will already be people with a different worldview. The government has reached a red line and has no choice but to keep people inside the country. The authorities are afraid that when they return they will begin to demand their rights.
First they introduced a visa, then they made it more difficult to obtain. How?
Currently, a person leaving must find a guarantor - a government employee who can guarantee that the person will return. In addition, the guarantor must have an income of 2000 manats. You should bring a letter from the accounting department at the guarantor’s place of work. The content of the letter is this: I guarantee his/hers return within the indicated time frame, and all this is certified by a notary. A visa will not be issued without a letter of guarantee. If a person does not return home on time, there is a threat of dismissal of the guarantor.
The Law of Turkmenistan on Migration states: «Every citizen who has reached the age of 18 can leave the country at any time and return to the country at any time».There is nothing there about a guarantee or a letter of guarantee.
In addition, the introduced rule is another opportunity for the growth of corruption...The more difficult the conditions for obtaining a visa, the more it contributes to the development of corruption.
Now the price of a plane ticket from Ashgabat to Istanbul is 5,000 manats - $1,430 at the government exchange rate. Why so expensive? The distance from Uzbekistan to Turkey is much longer, but their air tickets are several times cheaper than ours. The predatory government is taking advantage of the opportunity to enrich itself here too.
Another. You are allowed 25 kilograms of baggage per ticket. If the load is larger, you need to pay 280 manats. They do not issue any receipts at the time of payment. And they won’t put it into the computer. They simply mark the ticket with a fountain pen. That is, this money does not go to the state treasury. All this is hidden from the budget.
And the most important thing. After receiving my visa, I was summoned to the local police station where I live. They demanded that I write: “I undertake, while abroad, not to participate in rallies and protests criticizing our government, or in discussions on political issues that are held on the Internet. I promise that I will not comment on videos posted on the Internet, and I promise not to click on the “like” icon under them.
If I had not signed this letter, I would not have been able to travel abroad».
Turkmen Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights