Activists call on Turkmen nationals to participate in protests; special task police squads being trained to disperse residents

Activists of the Turkmen opposition political movement Democratic Choice for Turkmenistan are calling on Turkmen nationals to participate in nationwide protests on 14 and 25 September, 2020.

Members of Democratic Choice for Turkmenistan have been among the organizers of a recent series of protests in the US.

In his video address the leader of the opposition movement Murad Kurbanov promised to pay all rally participants up to $500 at “the market exchange rate” from government coffers. The money would be obtained after the opposition parties come to power.

The opposition activist assumes that people will be detained but he is convinced that the maximum punishment which protest participants might face is 15 days of detention as “the Turkmen law does not have a single article pursuant to which a participant of a protest action can be held accountable”.

According to Kurbanov, he is striving for a peaceful change of regime. However, the Human Rights Group “Memorial”, according to its own source, reports that local special police task squads in Turkmenistan are being trained to disperse protestors.

“Our authorities are seriously concerned by potential mass unrest and even organized street demonstrations. This has been caused by several factors. Among them are the activities undertaken by the Turkmen community abroad and the “new” opposition in Turkey, US and other countries, the growing discontent of residents with the COVID-19 situation, travel bans, unemployment and other social problems. The authorities fear that development in Belarus might have a potential effect”, – a source of “Memorial” said.

The counter-terrorist plan which had been developed in the run-up to the 2017 Asian Games has been re-introduced in Turkmenistan. The plan envisages prompt “neutralization” of activists who might contact embassies and foreign media outlets.

For over a month special task police squads have been trained to disperse street protestors. The police officers have been brought to the capital from all provinces and may stay there until the Independence Day held on 27 September or even longer.

“The black list” of those barred from travelling has been increased by 5,5 thousand people, 2 thousand of whom are government officials and members of their families. The remaining 3,5 thousand are made up primarily of immigrants’ relatives.

According to the sources, the special services of Turkmenistan suspect the Turkish authorities of patronizing and even funding Turkmen activists because Turkey is ignoring Ashgabat requests to clamp down on politically active migrant workers and has refused to extradite detained activists.



Source: Chronicles of Turkmenistan