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Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights

Turkmenistan

Better late than never

Better late than never

On August 2, at Istanbul airport, Turkmen migrants began to storm the ticket office. About 200 people were outraged by the manipulations of Turkmen Airlines employees, who sold two tickets per one passenger seat. Consulate representatives did not arrive at the airport to meet the Turkmens

On August 1, between 350 and 500 people lined up outside the Turkmenistan Consulate in Istanbul. They were all eager to get an appointment at the consulate. Over the past few weeks, this pattern has been observed continuously.

Approximately in the middle of the day, people began to express complaints, some demanded a consul, curses were heard. “We have been standing outside under the scorching sun all day. Stop mocking people!" - the Turkmens were indignant and this was the most harmless thing that people shouted. Others protested the sluggishness of consular officials, while others were outraged by the many years of rude treatment of visitors by the institution’s staff.

In the end, someone broke a window of the building, blood was shed (it was not possible to clarify from whom), consulate employees called the police, and she was detained, who was the loudest indignant.

According to eyewitnesses, Turkmen officials banned video filming and forced at least two people to erase video recordings from their phones. One of the consulate employees promised those gathered to work overtime: that day, the reception of citizens continued until 21:00. To some visitors, the institution's employees complained about the lack of staffing.

We asked a former mid-level employee of the Turkmen Foreign Ministry, who wished to remain anonymous, to comment on the situation: “Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan Rashid Meredov is aware of all the problems, but has been condoning such disgrace for years. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs could send a couple of workers to Istanbul to relieve tension, but he does not. At this rate, they will not resolve the issue even in three years, because several hundred thousand Turkmen citizens live in Turkey.

In general, this incident is the result of many years of ignoring the rights of Turkmen citizens to receive/renew documents at foreign consulates, the authorities’ persecution of activists demanding these rights, and the greed of officials who patronize intermediaries.

Now, although belatedly, they have changed our ambassador in Turkey; most likely, an order was received to reduce the intensity of the protest in Turkey, so they began issuing temporary certificates. But this is “patching holes”, not solving the problem, but delaying a social explosion.

It is necessary, as it is done in all countries, to issue passports to all fellow citizens and open air flights to the extent that they were before.”

Turkmen Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights

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