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Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights




Today, 20 June 2022, is World Refugee Day. The humanitarian dramas and refugee crises experienced all over the world due to the policies of the states or the conflicts and wars between them are getting deeper over time. While the mismanagement of some states, which produces systematic human rights violations, pushes their own citizens out of their borders, some wars and crises make it irreversible. The crisis experienced by the government of Turkmenistan is perhaps the most dramatic humanitarian crisis experienced to the refugees and migrants recently and especially during the pandemic period.

After the death of Saparmurat Niyazov, known as Turkmenbashi, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, who became the head of state in February 2007, continued to the presidency in 2012 and 2017, and his son Serdar Berdimuhamedov became on the power with an early presidential election on 12 March 2022. Turkmenistan, a young state, has achieved a stable and high growth trend in recent years, with its economy based on its rich natural gas reserves. On the other hand, the problems regarding human rights and freedoms in the country, the prohibition of political and social individuals and groups who think differently, and the pressures, inequality in income distribution, poverty and unemployment have caused the Turkmens to leave their country. In this way, Turkey has become the host country where many immigrants and asylum seekers from Turkmenistan.

Turkmenistan has been described as one of the most repressive and closed countries in the world for 30 years. Systematic human rights violations that took root during President Niyazov's administration continued during the years of Berdimuhammedov's administration and still continue. Turkmenistan is virtually closed to various international observers, while observers monitoring the observance of human rights also face a harsh and authoritarian regime. The media operates under strict state control. The standard of living continues to decline. Visit requests by official and civilian observation delegations, such as the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, are not accepted.

Turkmenistanis who try to raise their voices are subject to harassment, physical attacks and arbitrary imprisonment. Extrajudicial or arbitrary executions, torture and ill-treatment by police and prison officials, severe and life-threatening prison conditions, arbitrary detention, arrest and conviction of politicians, politically motivated reprisals against individuals in another country, unfair trial and serious problems with the independence of the judiciary; organizations, interference with the freedom of peaceful assembly and association, especially violations of freedom of religion, violations of freedom of travel, violations of the right to vote and be elected. Lists of people who have not been heard from are published every year. Turkmenistan activists, bloggers and non-governmental organizations live in exile far from Turkmenistan, and those in Turkmenistan are also persecuted.

Political opponents from Turkmenistan are trying to raise their voices outside Turkmenistan on the grounds that they are not allowed to do politics in Turkmenistan and that they carry a life-threatening risk. Political opponents who are active in this way state that pressure and threat are tried to be created against them in the countries they are in, they are followed and ways are tried to be used to be extradited to Turkmenistan with fabricated common crimes. Activists and politicians, especially outside of Turkmenistan and also in Turkey, state that the threats directed against them from Turkmenistan are in the form of killing, kidnapping, forced return, violence and slander. They even stated that their simplest demands and activities were tried to be prevented.

When the pandemic period started, Turkmenistan took a decision in March 2020 and closed all border gates and banned long-term entry and exit to Turkmenistan by all means such as flights. Thereupon, the Turkmens living in Turkey could not return to their countries, the Turkmenistan embassy and consulate in Turkey refused to make circular transactions for their passport durations and other documents. This situation has made the legal situation of those in Turkey problematic, resulting in tens of thousands of victims. Documentation and passport procedures, which are necessary in the ordinary course of life, such as registration of new born children, marriage, etc., were not carried out. Burial of those who lost their lives in their own country was not allowed. Petitions to find a solution to this terrible humanitarian crisis were not accepted, and those who criticize and object to this situation, who wanted to make a press release and called for action, were declared as "criminals".

It is stated that nearly 2 million people left Turkmenistan in 10 years. The most visited country is Turkey. People who went to study or work abroad could not update their passport information because the consulates did not carry out these procedures. Therefore, they and their children have been deprived of medical assistance, work, education, travel and other social rights. They have been reduced to violating the laws of the countries they live in. With the earliest approval appointment date still being shown in December 2024, the fear that this humanitarian crisis will continue for a very long time has turned into a huge drama for the people of Turkmenistan.

These problems should be resolved by using all political and diplomatic channels in the relations between Turkey and Turkmenistan. A solution based on the values of justice, respect for the right and freedom, which are the political, social and cultural resources of both communities, is possible. Taking necessary steps to end the violations of rights in Turkmenistan, restoring freedom of expression, thought and religion, guaranteeing access to justice, safe and healthy passport processing, which is the most natural right of Turkmen people in Turkey, reuniting broken families on the appropriate side should be provided. It is our call to treat the transactions of Turkmen in Turkey with a humanitarian and exceptional perspective and to produce a temporary solution until the document and procedural problems arising from the Turkmenistan administration are resolved. On the other hand, people from Turkmenistan who are requested to be extradited by showing fabricated charges or listing for different reasons, especially on the grounds that they express their opinions and criticisms, should not be extradited to Turkmenistan.

The right of every person to live freely and honourably in their homeland and to be buried in their own land is our responsibility to each other.

We call on Turkmenistan to do what is necessary to improve human rights and end the humanitarian crisis with its own political will. We wish that the racist and hateful oppressive policies that have increased alarmingly in recent years around the world will come to an end and justice and freedom will prevail.

1. Mazlumder.

2. Özgür-Der.

3. IHH.





8. Hak Hukuga Daýanç.

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