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Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights

Turkmenistan

Turkmen civil society: illusions and reality

Turkmen civil society: illusions and reality

For several decades, Turkmenistan systematically destroyed the civil society, albeit small, that existed at the time of gaining independence.

With the coming to power of the first and then the second presidents, the Turkmens were driven into a corner through persecution of dissent and large-scale repression. For many years, young people only heard “keep your head down, don’t interfere, this doesn’t concern you.” Even now this continues.

The wave of protests by Turkmen migrants, born as a result of Covid-19 and intensified by the consequences of a hurricane in two regions of Turkmenistan in 2020, has awakened many Turkmens.

Unfortunately, the so-called leaders of several groups took advantage of this and thoughtlessly pushed young people to protest without providing “rear support.” For example, in Turkey, many protesters did not have valid residence documents. They lived there with expired or lost passports; moreover, they went out to protests, breaking the law without the permission of local authorities.

All this led to system errors. Some needed PR for an individual or group, others needed refugee status. But no one, due to their illiteracy, laziness, or general disregard, was honored to study the legislation of the country in which they were staying.

They took the easy route. They presented in various unprofessional, including dubious, chats, listened to groundless promises, relying on the leaders of these chats. And when the arrests began, everyone rushed to human rights activists for help. Where are the leaders who pushed Farhad Meymankuliev, Rovshan Klychev, Maksad Baymuradov, Serdar Durdylyev and others to rash actions? At the same time, they do not want to understand that human rights activists do not work with the fantasies of this or that person, but with facts, details and evidences.

There are hundreds of thousands of migrants facing problems. But there are only a few of us who are ready to openly talk about the violation of their rights, and show documents and evidence. And human rights activists (unlike those who promote themselves on the Internet) only talk about those whose cases they can confirm. And this irritates those who want to get everything at once. When they cannot provide facts of persecution, human rights defenders are slandered.

But the protesters, neither then nor now, have either a clear plan of action or a coalition of representatives who would propose structural government reforms.

People want protests to change the regime. But the problem is that a small part of society speaks out, the main part is silent. They don't agree, but they don't disagree either.

There are several opposition groups that are not ready to negotiate either among themselves or with the authorities. Our people have been taught to wait for some kind of messiah who will solve all their problems. Hence the belief in the titles of Turkmenbashi, Arkadag, it makes no difference who, or the person who calls himself president, as long as it is not the citizen himself, he wants to lie on the couch and wait for semolina porridge from heaven.

Now they are getting it into their heads that civil society means rallies and protests, and the power media is telling them that this is bad and can lead to unrest. Few people understand that civil society is self-discipline, the ability to self-govern, so as not to slide into anarchy. This is the ability to assess the position of a country in time and space, to create, so to speak, a coordinate system.

This path is not easy, long and painful. But the ignorant want everything at once and for the rest of their lives!!! Those who believed the illusions are now indignant at why they didn’t succeed. Few people have the courage to admit their mistakes, that they accepted wishful thinking and believed empty promises. Hence the claims to each other and to everyone taken together. I repeat once again, we must be able to self-govern and not shift responsibility onto other shoulders.

The authorities see this and cooperate with the authorities of other countries in this direction. Therefore, all attempts by the healthy part of Turkmen dissent, turning to various international organizations for help about the Turkmen who are being deported, have not yet given immediate results.

Turkmen Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights

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