This publication shines a spotlight on Turkmenistan, a country in the middle of a sustained economic crisis that has seen hyper-inflation in the lives of ordinary people and widespread food shortages, all despite its vast gas reserves. This economic crisis has in turn led to the regime’s repression of its people becoming ever tighter and its personality cult becoming ever more grandiose.
The publication documents Turkmenistan’s ‘Potemkin economy’, with marble facades, respectable official GDP figures and tightly regulated state shops that mask huge structural challenges and a chaotic black economy. It also details Turkmenistan’s massive human rights abuses that have seen it ranked as the worst in the world by Reporters without Borders and many other global freedom rankings. In particular, the publication draws attention to the massive use of forced labour, ‘disappeared’ activists in the prison system and restrictions on independent journalists and human rights activists.
A key part of the publication’s conclusions and recommendations argues that the current economic turmoil creates new opportunities for leverage on human rights by the international community. It also makes the case that pressure should be placed on Turkmenistan to abide by its UN and international investment treaties, and to allow greater access to UN Special Rapporteurs and international NGOs to help ease the humanitarian elements of the current crisis.