Turkmenistan Domestic Developments
Turkmenistan to pardon over 1,300 prisoners in honor of Night of Omnipotence
President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov signed the decree “On Granting Amnesty to Prisoners in Honor of the Sacred Gadyr Gijesi (Night of Omnipotence).” According to the decree, 1327 prisoners, including 44 foreign nationals accused of committing crimes in Turkmenistan, will be discharged from serving their full sentence.
Turkmenistan Builds New Model Prison
Turkmenistan is building a new women’s prison that it may be able to use to showcase improvements in penal conditions that will likely not be evident elsewhere. The facility is being built by a Turkish contractor near an existing women’s prison located 100 kilometres from Dashoguz in northeastern Turkmenistan. The new prison will contain a cellblock, a clothing factory where inmates will work, a kindergarten and school for the inmates’ children, and even a shop. The new facility is to be an improvement on the current women’s prison camp at Dashoguz, built by the Soviet authorities in 1967. The Independent Bar Association of Turkmenistan based in the Netherlands says the existing camp was designed to house 700 inmates but now holds more than 2,000, with 12 or 14 inmates living in rooms meant for four. Eight out of ten female inmates are serving time for drug convictions, although others were locked up simply for being relatives of government officials that have fallen out of favor. Rights groups report that inmates are abused and tuberculosis is rife in the facility.
Vyacheslav Mamedov, leader of the Netherlands-based Civil Democratic Union of Turkmenistan, says the replacement prison looks like an attempt to repair Turkmenistan’s appalling reputation for prison conditions. "It seems the prison will become a showcase for the Turkmen penal system – somewhere international inspections could be allowed to take place," Mamedov said. "The international community has long criticized the authorities for the disorder in the prison system, which remains closed to the outside world and is characterized by torture and brutality." Turkmenistan has a high prison population by any standards – 550 people per 100,000 of the population, twice as many as Kyrgyzstan, for example.
Is Child Labor Exploited in Turkmenistan?
An article for Tajik radio “Ozodi” describes the use of child labor in Turkmenistan despite an official prohibition against the use of child labor. Children are forced to work to help their families and to be able to afford clothes and books for school. In interviews with Radio “Ozodi” Lebap correspondent Umyd Jumaev, local residents said that low-income families don’t receive sufficient assistance and children have to work, selling fruits and vegetables, dairy products, and drinking water; gathering cotton; and even working on construction sites and in house remodeling. Child protection services do not take adequate measures to control the use of child labor.
Chief Editor of “Watan” newspaper dismissed
In accordance with President Berdymukhamedov’s decree, Chief Editor of “Watan” newspaper Gurbanmammed Yegenmyradov has been dismissed “for serious shortcomings in the work and inability to cope with assigned duties.”
Journal "Foreign Policy and Diplomacy of Turkmenistan" to increase circulation
At the decree of the President, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan will publish the quarterly journal "Foreign Policy and Diplomacy of Turkmenistan" in Turkmen, Russian, and English languages with a 1000 copy print run. In addition, in accordance with the orders of the Ministry of Communications of Turkmenistan, additional copies of the journal will be printed.
President Berdymukhamedov Studies New Projects in Avaza
During a visit to Balkan province, President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov studied plans for new facilities to be built on the Caspian coast at the Avaza tourist resort, including motor racing tracks, an oceanarium, an Exposition centre, trading and business centers, numerous hotels and cottage villages. The President heard the reports of the officials in charge of Avaza development and instructed his subordinates to speed up construction.
Accompanied by governmental officials, the President took a tour around Avaza and rode a local bus. “The unexpected appearance of President Berdymukhamedov on the regular urban bus caused excitement and enthusiasm of the passengers. The Turkmen leader asked them how they like their holidays and whether they are satisfied with the conditions created in the tourist zone. The passengers responded with pride that their holidays are very pleasurable, and that Avaza has all favorable conditions for improving health, for comfortable rest, and for interesting pastimes both for adults and children. They expressed their sincere gratitude to the President of Turkmenistan for his incessant care for people and striving to improve their living and working conditions in accordance with international standards.” At the end of the tour the President visited the beach, where “vacationers greeted him with sincere joy and enthusiasm.” The President wished them “happy holidays and joyous pastime.”
Source: Turkmenistan.gov.tm, turkmenistan.gov.tm
Popular Beach in Avaza in Dreadful State
The Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights described an undeveloped beach which many Turkmen people use during their vacations. People prefer to put up their own tents and spend time on this beach to staying in Avaza’s expensive and poorly serviced hotels from which they can be kicked out at any time if a high governmental official decides to stay there, as happened on July 7 to guests of Arzuv hotel. People were asked to vacate their hotel rooms when officials came to take part in the opening ceremony of the cottage complex. When the President comes to Avaza, people can also be evicted from their hotel rooms without any notice. The beach runs for 2.5 kilometers and has only 15 small tents, while the temperatures in July and August exceed 40 degrees. There are only two lifeguard stands and the lifeguards have no equipment other than life vests which they wear themselves, which is insufficient, given the strong undertow of the Caspian. Instead of rubbish containers there are 200 litter barrels previously used for petroleum products or chemicals; they are always full of rubbish. There is only one rest room for the entire beach. The beach is littered all over, with plastic and glass bottles, packets, etc.
TV Program Not Printed in Turkmenistan
For the past seven months, since the start of the presidential election campaign, TV programming schedules for the Turkmen television channels have not been published anywhere. Previously, weekly TV schedules were published in all newspapers. Seven television channels operate in Turkmenistan and all of them are state-owned. In reality, they differ only in their titles and there is no substantial difference in content between them – all of them praise the authorities in power. According to some observers, the newspapers have stopped publishing TV schedules to avoid the need to amend them, as the President’s schedule changes.
Turkmen Air fleet Dilapidated
Turkmen State Airlines is experiencing serious problems paying salaries to employees and with maintaining their air fleet. The state company has no funds to purchase spare parts, and hangars are full of decrepit aircraft. “The President ordered to improve the situation and organize additional flights, but we cannot fulfill his orders,” said one of the employees of Turkmen State Airlines from Ashgabat on the condition of anonymity. “Currently only eight aircraft are operational and our bosses are afraid to report this [to the president].”
Mass Criminal Cases Held in Turkmenistan
Turkmen authorities continue the practice of organizing group criminal cases involving many defendants. Sources from the state concern Turkmenneft reported mass arrests in Balkan province in a criminal case relating to missing oil in the Cheleken oil refinery. About 15 people, including employees of foreign companies, are being held in preliminary investigation facilities. According to a source from the Ministry of Interior, one of the secret initiators of the criminal case is the Chairman of the state concern Turkmenneft Annakuli Deriaev, who is closely connected with the power structures and has made his swift career under their patronage. He reportedly initiated the case to conceal his own criminal violations.
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