“He said his lungs were burning.” Turkish diplomat’s widow talks about her husband’s death from COVID-19 in Turkmenistan
For more than a year now Turkmenistan’s government has declared the country free of coronavirus. They feed this story not only to their own people, who are already used to the authorities covering up problems and openly lying, but also to the entire international community – the UN, including the WHO, and foreign governments. The Turkmen government is essentially disregarding its own people and their health, and by lying to the international community and presenting inaccurate epidemiological data, it is putting the health of the whole world at risk.
The authorities of Turkmenistan do lie. Like all states around the world, Turkmenistan has not avoided coronavirus. The pandemic and its tragic consequences have hit in waves, as they have everywhere. The first wave engulfed Turkmenistan in early summer 2020, the second towards the end of the year. Sources say that at present the country is experiencing a third wave of the pandemic, and no one in the world knows anything for sure about this virus: where it came from, whether it has mutated, how the disease progresses, etc.
The president of Turkmenistan is more concerned about his image than the health and safety of the country’s citizens. Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov has not forgotten his family though: at the very height of the pandemic at the end of August and later at the end of November a government plane flew to Germany to bring German doctors to Turkmenistan. State media did not report the reason for the summer visit of five doctors from Germany, but it emerged that during the fall several doctors from Munich led by a specialist in endocrinology and diabetes visited.
Throughout the year turkmen.news has gathered crumbs of information for this report on COVID-19 in Turkmenistan. Even in countries with no restrictions on freedom of speech, coronavirus statistics leave much to be desired. This is clearly a complex and entirely new topic, let alone in Turkmenistan where the government, led by a president who is a doctor, deliberately conceals information.
Giving information to independent media puts Turkmen citizens in real danger. Nurgeldi Halykov who simply sent to turkmen.news someone else’s photo of the WHO mission, was promptly arrested and sentenced to four years’ detention on fabricated charges. So it is no surprise that many people who are relatives or colleagues of the dead, or doctors who tried to save their lives, should refuse to answer our questions, even anonymously.
We demand that the Turkmen authorities immediately release Nurgeldi Halykov from prison. We demand that he be fully rehabilitated and paid compensation for the year he spent in detention on trumped up charges. We call on the WHO, Western governments and international financial institutions to press Berdimuhamedov to immediately release an innocent man. We also call on the international community to make official Ashgabat reveal the true picture of the pandemic in the country since covering up such important data poses a threat to international efforts to combat coronavirus.
The report includes answers to frequently asked questions about COVID-19 in Turkmenistan, a chronology of events between January 2020 and May 2021, a commentary by lawyer Timur Misrikhanov, and a whole range of recommendations to the government of Turkmenistan, the World Health Organization, foreign governments and international organizations, and international financial institutions. At the end of the report is a list of people who died from coronavirus in Turkmenistan. We will remember them.
This turkmen.news report can be freely distributed.
Download the report in English (.pdf 4 MB).
Скачать отчет на русском языке (.pdf 4 MB).
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