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Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights

Turkmenistan

“Hostages” of the Turkmen Foreign Ministry

“Hostages” of the Turkmen Foreign Ministry

On March 5, three citizens of Turkmenistan, a family of natives of Lebap province, were detained at Istanbul International Airport. They were found with dozens of fake Turkmen passports and fake Polish visas, a source reports to «Chronicles of Turkmenistan».

Today, the biggest problem of Turkmen migrants living in Turkey is the issue of obtaining a new passport. For decades, the Turkmen Embassy in Ankara and consulates have categorically refused to issue passports to their fellow citizens. The situation has been aggravated by COVID-19. Last summer, the authorities, frightened by protest sentiments, decided to put «extension marks» on the document in biometric passports until December 31, 2024. In a press release dated March 13, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan reports that 200 thousand Turkmens have had their passports extended. But diplomats kept silent about the fact that the extension agreements are not recognized by third countries, thereby depriving their citizens of freedom of movement.

Ashgabat is also silent about the hundreds and hundreds of thousands of Turkmen who still have old passports and about those whose documents have been lost. They are like outcasts: they are not given either new passports or renewal inserts.

Having become illegal migrants, the latter face all sorts of obstacles in trying to somehow survive, including the fraud described above.

Here are a few more cases.

Labor migrant Babageldi Annamyradov, born in 1995, originally from the Garabeg region of Lebap province, came to Turkey in 2018. He received a residence permit, worked, and then applied for an extension of the residence permit, but he was denied due to a change of residence. COVID-19 forced him to work illegally (as a courier). In December 2022, B.Annamyradov was detained by the police and, due to the lack of a local document, was sent to the Ankara Chankyry deportation center. A month later, about 20 people, including 7-8 Turkmens, escaped from the deportation center through external sewer pipes. According to them, the reason for the escape was the difficult conditions of detention. On February 1, almost everyone was detained again and sent back to the deportation center. Babageldi managed to hide with his relatives until March 1, when police officers tracked him down and brought him back.

Now the detained Turkmens agree to return home, even to the point of forcible deportation, since the conditions in the deportation centers are “terrible, some have mental problems, people fight among themselves, and physical violence is also used against the detainees. Some, unable to bear it, commit suicide.”

THF informed the public about these issues in a timely manner.

As the relatives of the detainees say, “after this, the head of the Turkmen consulate in Istanbul visited the Ankara Chankyry deportation center.” This message could not be confirmed, but the problem remains unresolved.

The Annamyradov family turned to the consulate in Istanbul for help. They replied that without an official letter from the Turkish authorities they could not help. Apparently Turkmen diplomats are not aware that they themselves must take the initiative.

Among the Turkmens held in the deportation center in the city of Van, there is a glimmer of hope that the Turkish authorities will recruit Turkmen migrants to the required number to fill the plane and deport them to their homeland.

Turkmen Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights

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