Turkmen and Turkish human rights activists say the crisis being experienced by Turkmen is one of the most dramatic humanitarian crises experienced by refugees and migrants. This was stated by representatives of human rights organizations at a press conference held in Istanbul on June 20 on World Refugee Day.
Representatives of non-governmental organizations called for solving the problems of refugees from Turkmenistan.
"The crisis experienced by the people of Turkmenistan is one of the most dramatic humanitarian crises experienced by refugees and migrants," says a joint appeal by several Turkish and Turkmen organizations - "Mazlumder" (Mazlum-Der), which brings together lawyers, journalists, authors, publishers and businessmen, human rights International Refugee Rights Association "Ozgur-der", the Association for the Enforcement of Human Rights "Hak Hukuga Dayanch" and the "Turkmen Helsinki Foundation".
Speaking at a press conference led by the Association for Freedom of Thought and the Right to Education (Özgür-Der) in Fatih, the president of the association, Ridvan Kaya, noted the growing urgency of the problems that World Refugee Day was founded to address.
"This day was established to raise awareness of the helpless and oppressed people who cannot live in the place where they were born and to express their concerns. The need for this has become more acute today", - Kaya said.
The Turkish human rights activist noted that the problems of the citizens of Turkmenistan require more attention both in their country and in the world: "We have made certain efforts in this matter in recent years, but the problems continue."
Turkmens are the third largest among foreigners in Turkey. According to official data, about 213,000 Turkmen citizens live in the country. According to independent sources, the real figures may be several times higher. Many are in Turkey illegally.
The main problems of Turkmen citizens in Turkey are related to difficulties in legalizing their stay in the country. Citizens of Turkmenistan often cannot obtain the necessary documents while in Turkey. Traveling to Turkmenistan requires significant expenses. In conditions of total unemployment in Turkmenistan, the vast majority of Turkmen migrants are in Turkey to work and are the only source of income for their families. The introduction of a visa regime by the Turkish government in September 2022 worsened the situation for the people of Turkmenistan. Turkish authorities have since tightened the rules for registering and obtaining permission to stay in the country.
At a press conference, Dursoltan Taganova, head of the "Hak Hukuga Dayanch" human rights organization, said that entire families are becoming victims of the migration crisis, and children are also becoming deprived of their rights.
"Our main problem is that the passports of citizens of Turkmenistan are not renewed. Because of this, thousands of people cannot receive medical care. They cannot go to hospitals. Children cannot get education. Many people are forced to work illegally. Today, 4,320 children denied the right to education. Our request to the Turkish government is to hear the voice of the Turkmen people. Refugees from Turkmenistan want their voice to be heard", - Taganova said.
In a joint appeal, human rights activists note that the pandemic that began in 2020 exacerbated the problems of Turkmen citizens in Turkey. "During this period, those who could not return to their country, although they wanted to, cannot live in Turkey due to problems with the expiration of their passports and live under the threat of detention or deportation", - the report said.
Human rights activists note that the authorities of Turkmenistan ignore the problems of citizens of the country who are abroad. Earlier, the THF repeatedly reported on the deplorable situation of Turkmen citizens held for a long time in the deportation centers of Turkey and called for attention to their fate.
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty