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Allowed to leave! How a daughter defended her mother’s right to pilgrimage

Allowed to leave! How a daughter defended her mother’s right to pilgrimage

In the photo is Yakutjan Babajanova.

“My mother received a letter saying that she has been allowed to leave Turkmenistan,” Hamida Babajanova, a migrant in Türkiye, happily told human rights activists.

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Previously, her mother, 73-year-old Yakutjan Babajanova, originally from the Koneurgench district of Dashoguz province, was twice denied leaving Turkmenistan for pilgrimage: the first time on April 3, the second on April 23, 2023.

Then the Babajanovs turned to us for advice, after which a complaint was sent to the Migration Service, the Ombudsman and other authorities about the violation of Yakutjan’s constitutional rights to freedom of religion and freedom of movement. For our part, we brought the issue of Yakutjan Babajanova to the attention of international organizations.

When her relatives first tried to find out the reason for the refusal, the officials threatened them to “not raise this issue again.” The second time they were told: “if you come again about this issue, we will destroy you.” “But we did not follow their lead. I gave an interview and said that the authorities are trying to take revenge on me through my mother, since I have repeatedly criticized the regime,” said Hamida.

“Now my relatives are afraid that my mother may not be released again if I publish the letter from the Migration Service. But I believe that everything should be transparent. What do we have to hide?

I want to tell my compatriots. Do not be afraid to threaten this or that official that you will file a complaint against him for violating your rights. Such employees are very afraid of publicity, as well as of losing their position, which they usually get through bribes or acquaintances!“ Hamida shared her opinion and added, we now intend to purchase tickets so that my mother can leave Turkmenistan and perform the minor hajj.

In Turkmenistan, citizens intending to travel abroad, even if they have all the necessary documents, are often not allowed to board their flights. The country's authorities regularly and arbitrarily include citizens on lists of persons prohibited from leaving the country. Most often, these lists include critics of the regime and their relatives.

Turkmen Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights

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