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Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights

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How one reference and Turkmen officials brought a mother of many children to despair

 How one reference and Turkmen officials brought a mother of many children to despair

Yesterday we reported on a video message from activist Zarina Akhtyamova. She told THF about the reasons that prompted her to do this (publish with some abbreviations).

“I was born in the city of Turkmenabat of Lebap province. I have two secondary educations. In 2002 I got married. In 2003, my daughter, Sabina Karimova, was born. Soon I divorced my husband. There was an unemployment in the country, my husband did not help financially, so in 2006 I had to go to Turkey to work. My daughter stayed with my parents, and I worked as a nanny, a seamstress, and a translator to help them.

In 2010, I married a Turk, we registered a Muslim marriage "nikah". We couldn't get it officially because my passport was stolen. I reported the theft to the local police. The trial began. At the trial, the prosecutor told me: “With this application, you can go to the consulate of Turkmenistan and get a new passport. This is international practice. Consulates are obliged to provide their citizen with the necessary documents.”

On January 26, 2010, I went to our consulate in the city of Istanbul with relevant documents. The consular staff did not even deign to get acquainted with them. They just said, “We can't help. We do not have the authority to provide every citizen with such documents. Go to Turkmenistan and apply there.”

And how will I go if I had medical contraindications due to a difficult pregnancy? I wrote an application with a request to issue a certificate - confirmation of a copy of the passport. It is needed upon admission to the hospital. But they refused my request. On April 4, 2019, in a state Turkish hospital, I gave birth to a premature, in serious condition, girl. For health reasons, the child was transferred to the intensive care unit of a paid hospital, where they demanded to pay 40,000 Turkish liras (7,200 dollars at the exchange rate at that time) for the services, otherwise they could not give us her. We were not able to pay such an amount, since only my husband worked, and we lived in a rented apartment. In the hospital, given my situation, they offered to draw up documents as a single mother, since such mothers are provided with a discount.

For this, I needed a document stating that I was not married in Turkmenistan, and in Turkey I still could not officially register the marriage. On April 6, 2019, I again applied to the consulate, showing all the medical certificates that the child was in intensive care. I requested a meeting with the Consul General. During a meeting with him, he did not introduce himself, and they took away my phone for fear that I would record the conversation. After I presented all the supporting documents, he started shouting: “I don’t have a passport! What did you hope for when you decided to give birth?“ And he refused, saying that I should go to Turkmenistan and get a certificate there. I had to turn to a relative in Turkmenistan for help. I gave her a power of attorney so that she would receive a certificate of non-marriage (on marital status - ed. THF). With great difficulty, she obtained this certificate by paying a $1,200 bribe that officials demanded from her. Only after that I was able to discharge my baby from the hospital.

I again turned to the “native” consulate for help in obtaining a passport. They answered me: “We only issue certificates for departure to our homeland.” I agreed to take at least such a certificate confirming my citizenship. Why? When the Turkish police stops, the person must show a legal document, and they do not recognize a copy of the passport.

Unfortunately, I was not able to travel to Turkmenistan, because they issued a certificate valid for only 3 months. And at this time the girl was constantly sick. In October 2020, I gave birth to my second child - Kardelen. My husband and I tried to issue Turkish documents for children. By this time, the certificate of non-marriage had expired, and everything again came up against the lack of documents from Turkmenistan. In order to re-do the documents, it was necessary to re-apply to the Turkmen consulate. In general, I went to the consulate 15-20 times and all to no avail. Knowing their attitude towards their compatriots, I went the other way. Our state, in particular in the person of diplomatic workers, does not help anyone in anything. As I understand it, they do not want to perform their functions. I became an activist. I am trying to protect my rights and the rights of my children. I speak on social networks calling on citizens not to be silent, but to demand their rights. Our silence and humility allowed corrupt officials to sit in all instances and torment us.

On March 12, we went to the consulate for the presidential elections in Turkmenistan, where they recognized me: “Why do you speak so much on Tik Tok and YouTube, criticize us and the government?” After I voted, they took me inside the consulate. There I was approached by three employees, one of them was called Merdan. They promised that they would start issuing birth certificates for my children. I was given to fill out a questionnaire, and they demanded 4 photos of children 3 × 4 in size. I asked for a certificate of non-marriage in order to officially get married and get Turkish citizenship for the children. But they insisted that first they need to go to Turkmenistan and issue birth certificates for children. When I stated that for family reasons I could not go to Turkmenistan, they began to insist on our departure to Turkmenistan. To do this, they were ready to prepare us documents for departure.

On March 13, I called Merdan, he replied: “The passport is ready, come with your children and pick it up. You will come later for the birth certificates.” But now I don't trust them. My eldest daughter constantly writes to me to stop speaking the truth openly. It turns out that workers from the house administration first came to them, then from the police and threatened with arrest, demanding that I stop participating in opposition chats and actions.

It turns out that after my visits to the consulate, on April 13, employees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs came to Turkmenabad specially from Ashgabat to visit my parents. They showed my performances on YouTube, Tiktok, where I protest because of the violations of our rights by the regime. My father, Akhtyamov Karim Matyulovich, was driven to a heart attack. They shouted: your daughter has contacted a terrorist group, let her get out of there, this is not a good group.

After each of my speeches on the air, consular workers call me, write, demand that these speeches be stopped. I'm afraid they want to forcefully take me to Turkmenistan. Why do they need pictures of my children? I know that for registration of birth certificates for children, photos are not required. So they want to issue them an exit document. Why do they demand to come to the consulate with the children? Apparently they want to forcefully take us to Turkmenistan…

Turkmen Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights

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