Turkmenistan: Man Gets Four-Year Prison Term for Reposting Photo of WHO Delegation
2020 has been an exceptionally difficult year for Turkmenistan and its citizens. As per our tradition, Turkmen.news is proud to present its film to cover this year’s events in Turkmenistan. From the natural disasters, to government apathy, to economic hardships, much has changed and much has stayed the same in Turkmenistan.
Ironically, the Turkmen government continues to state that the coronavirus is absent in the country, which makes it only one of then countries not affected by the pandemic. This is patently false as civilians, incarcerated individuals, and frontline medical workers continue to fall prey to a virus the government refuses to acknowledge or tackle.
Even the positive test results of foreign diplomats in Turkmenistan are not enough to assuage the ruling authorities of their present course of action, which makes it all the more difficult to monitor infection rates and deadly cases.
Economic and social woes continue to plague the public with little help or assistance coming from the regime. In the spring, a massive windstorm ripped through the Lebap region destroying homes and leaving untold casualties in its wake. Official media reports failed to even acknowledge the presence of the storm, let alone its aftermath, and citizens were left to fend for themselves in order to rebuild their shattered lives. Furthermore, the coronavirus exacerbated the already grinding economic situation in the country with long lines for groceries and other essential goods becoming commonplace. Interestingly, even the government acknowledged the “difficult economic situation in the world” at various official events and meetings, which undercut their longstanding tradition of only touting government successes and prosperity.
We titled our new film “Turkmenistan: O, Allah, Help This Country!” and dedicated it to our friend Nurgeldi Halykov – a young man from Ashgabat who is now imprisoned for four years for simply sharing a photo. On September 15th, Halykov was sentenced in Ashgabat on trumped-up charges of fraud. Such charges are routinely used by the state security services to silence critics or “enemies of the state”. His actual detention and conviction are based on his sharing online of a photograph on July 12th of a visiting World Health Organization delegation despite the fact that he did not take the photograph himself. The fact that state media publicly acknowledged the WHO delegation’s visit made no impact. Reporters Without Borders made a statement regarding Halykov’s imprisonment and called upon the OSCE’s new representative on freedom of the media to press for the release of a journalist in Turkmenistan.
In spite of these difficulties, Turkmen.news will continue to work for a free, fair, and prosperous Turkmenistan. We will fight for Halykov’s freedom and we encourage you to join us in this endeavor!
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