Showing posts with label Turkmenistan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Turkmenistan. Show all posts

May 29, 2020

Two Years in Prison For Two Men Accused of Having Sex with Each Other in Turkmenistan

A screen showing a portrait of Turkmen President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov inside the terminal of the newly built airport in Ashgabat
Click to expand Image
A screen showing a portrait of Turkmen President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov inside the terminal of the newly built airport in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, September 17, 2016.  © 2016 Reuters
In Turkmenistan, men who have sex with men continue to be arrested and imprisoned on sodomy charges.
In mid-March independent media in the region reported the arrest of a popular entertainer as well as those of numerous other men who move in Turkmenistan’s show-business world. Some were able to secure their release. On May 7, a Turkmen court sentenced the entertainer, and several others to two years’ imprisonment on sodomy charges.
Turkmenistan is one of sixty-nine countries in the world that outlaw consensual sexual intercourse between men. Article 135 of the criminal code stipulates penalties of up to two years’ imprisonment for sodomy and 5 to 10 years if repeated. This blatantly discriminatory law, that violates Turkmenistan’s international human rights obligations, enables police to subject gay and bisexual men to harassment, including with the purpose of extortion, humiliation, and abuse.
Human Rights Watch documented a 2013 case in Turkmenistan, where medical staff collaborated with law enforcement officials to conduct an anal exam on an 18-year-old man accused of homosexual conduct. While not evidence of a pattern, the case raises the possibility that forced anal examinations have been or are being used against others charged with sodomy in Turkmenistan.
Such examinations have no medical justification, are cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment and may amount to torture. They violate the Convention against Torture and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both ratified by Turkmenistan.
Last year, in an extremely rare headline-grabbing instance, a gay man came out publicly despite hostile social attitudes and bullying by his family. He went missing after he came out, and then briefly resurfaced in the media before going silent again.
In 2017, the United Nations Human Rights Committee flagged criminalization of consensual same-sex conduct as “unjustifiable” and urged the Turkmen government to repeal it. Turkmenistan prides itself on its good standing in the United Nations. The government should immediately dismiss all charges against the men convicted under these laws and release them.
Turkmenistan should also repeal article 135 of the criminal code and protect people from violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation.

April 16, 2020

Gay Student From Turkmenistan Finds Freedom Abroad But Jail if He Returns Home

Maksat’s sexual orientation as a gay man has cost him the chance of having a family and living in his home country, Turkmenistan, where homosexuality is a criminal offense and a strict social taboo.
Beaten and blackmailed by police, the 23-year-old from Ashgabat recently received asylum in a European country, but he says the ordeals he faced at home still haunt him.
RFE/RL changed Maksat’s name at his request to protect his family in strictly controlled Turkmenistan, where the government has targeted the relatives of dissidents and activists.
Growing up in Ashgabat, Maksat said he had to hide his homosexuality even from his family and friends. In the predominantly Muslim Central Asian country, same-sex relationships are shunned by people even in more progressive urban areas. 
HIV Positive
Families often force their gay sons to marry a woman and live a “normal” life to avoid becoming a social pariah or ending up in prison.
Maksat found relative freedom when he moved to Russia to study business management at the age of 18. 
The happiness, however, was short-lived.
In fall 2019, Maksat tested positive for HIV, the virus that can cause AIDS, a status that effectively ended his legal residency in Russia.
Russia is one of 19 countries -- along with Saudi Arabia, China, and North Korea -- that deports HIV-positive foreigners. 
Not waiting for his deportation, Maksat abruptly returned to Turkmenistan and his “closeted” life.
Desperate to hide his sexual orientation in Ashgabat, Maksat said he even deleted all the contacts and files on his mobile phone that could give away his homosexuality.
He was also unable to seek moral support from family and friends or share his fears about his newly diagnosed HIV-positive status.

After Maksat returned to Ashgabat, his situation became much worse.
After Maksat returned to Ashgabat, his situation became much worse.
Maksat’s situation took a turn for the worse when he took a blood test at the AIDS-HIV Center in Ashgabat to register himself for potential medical treatment in December 2019.
When he returned to the center for a follow-up appointment at the doctor's office two days later, Maksat saw two police officers waiting for him.
Maksat doesn’t know whether the medical facility had reported his test results to the authorities.
“The officers asked me how I got infected [and] I told them I didn’t know,” Maksat told RFE/RL. Admitting the truth that he contracted the virus through a homosexual contact was out of the question, Maksat said, as such an admission would mean a prison sentence.
Article 135 of Turkmenistan’s Criminal Code deems a same-sex relationship among men an act of sodomy, punishable by two years in prison.
Beatings, Blackmail
The following night three police officers knocked on the door of Maksat’s small, rented apartment in Ashgabat.
“They took me to the police station,” Maksat recalled. “First they questioned me. Then began to beat me badly. They told me: ‘We know where you got HIV. You’re gay.’ I told them that it’s not true. But they kept beating me.”
“The officers demanded that I sign some documents admitting [being gay]. I refused but they said if I don’t sign it they would tell all my relatives that I’m gay. I had to sign the papers, although I don’t know what exactly was written in them,” Maksat said about the late December incident.

The admission paved the police’s way to open a criminal case against him on the sodomy charge.
Maksat also feared that he might face a second, trumped-up charge of “knowingly” infecting others with HIV, an offense that carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, according to Turkmen law.
The officers ordered Maksat to report to his area police station after the New Year.
Offices in Turkmenistan close for several days over the New Year festivities and it provided a window for Maksat to escape from Turkmenistan and the pending criminal case against him.
With a small amount of money in his pocket, Maksat returned to Russia.
A friend in the city of Voronezh helped him get assistance from some groups that champion the rights of sexual minorities.
They helped Maksat obtain asylum in Europe before Russian authorities found out about his HIV-positive status that would have put him under the imminent risk of being deported to Turkmenistan.
Despite currently living in a free country where the LGBT community is generally accepted, Maksat is still unable to be completely open about his sexuality.
He said he still hasn’t told his friends and relatives in Turkmenistan about his sexual orientation as it would “bring shame” to his parents.
Maksat said he is now a wanted man in Turkmenistan and police could question his family about his case and try to ascertain his whereabouts.
With the criminal charges hanging over his head, Maksat said he doesn’t know if he will ever be able to go back to Turkmenistan or see his parents anytime soon.
Written by Farangis Najibullah based on reporting by RFE/RL Russian Service correspondent Sergei Khazov-Cassia 16x9 Image

  • Sergei Khazov-Cassia

    Sergei Khazov-Cassia is a correspondent in Moscow for RFE/RL's Russian Service.

April 9, 2020

The Most Represive Government in The World, Turkmenistan Reports 0 Virus Taken 0 Precautions

                                         Mass cycle rally in Turkmenistan (file photo)

As the Covid-19 map gets covered by growing red circles, several countries still haven't registered a single case of infection, including one of the most repressive states in the world - Turkmenistan. Many experts are concerned its government may be hiding the truth, which could disrupt attempts to end the pandemic.
While the world battles coronavirus and more and more countries lock down their populations, Turkmenistan is holding a mass cycling rally to mark World Health Day on Tuesday. 
The Central Asian country claims it still has zero coronavirus cases. But can we trust the figures provided by a government renowned for censorship? 
"Official health statistics from Turkmenistan are notoriously unreliable," said Professor Martin McKee from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who has studied the Turkmen healthcare system. 
"For the past decade they have claimed to have no people living with HIV/Aids, a figure that is not plausible. We also know that, in the 2000s, they suppressed evidence of a series of outbreaks, including plague."
Many in Turkmenistan are even afraid of suggesting Covid-19 may already be in the country. 
"My acquaintance who works in a state agency told me that I shouldn't say that the virus is here or that I heard about it, otherwise I may get into trouble," said a resident of the capital Ashgabat, who asked to remain anonymous.
Turkmen healthcare brochure with hygiene advice
Image captionIn February, Turkmen hospitals did have posters about coronavirus but they were removed
The Turkmen authorities are, however, working on tackling a possible outbreak. 
Together with UN agencies in the country, they are discussing a plan of action. 
The UN Resident Co-ordinator, Elena Panova, told the BBC that this plan included country level co-ordination, risk communication, case investigation, laboratory diagnostics and other measures. 
When I asked her whether the UN trusted the official figures showing Turkmenistan had no confirmed Covid-19 cases, Ms Panova avoided giving a straight answer. 
"We are relying on official information because this is what all countries are doing," she said. "There is no question of trust because that's the way it works."
Ms Panova said early measures on restricting travel might have contributed to lack of confirmed cases.  
Turkmenistan did indeed close most of its land border crossings more than a month ago. 
It also cancelled flights to China and some other countries in early February and started diverting all international flights from the capital to Turkmenabat in the north-east, where a quarantine zone was created. 
However, according to several residents, some people were able bribe their way out of the zone and avoid two weeks of isolation in a tent. 
Ms Panova said everyone arriving in the country and those showing symptoms were being tested for Covid-19. However, she could not give exact figures of how many tests were conducted a day and how many test kits Turkmenistan had overall. 
"What we understand in talking to government officials is that they have sufficient tests." 
But how ready is the health system to deal with a coronavirus outbreak? 
"We don't know," Ms Panova admitted. "We've been told that they have a certain level of preparedness and we don't doubt it... as the hospitals here are very well equipped." 
"However, if there is an outbreak that's a huge pressure on the health system like in any other country. So, irrespective of how much you've prepared, it usually is insufficient. That's why we're already talking to them about procuring ventilators, and also other types of equipment."
There is some sense of awareness of the outbreak among the public. Movement between cities has been restricted and those who enter Ashgabat must now have a doctor's note. 
Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov riding a bike (file photo)Image copyrightTURKMEN STATE TV
Image captionPresident Berdymukhamedov is frequently seen cycling or in other sporty pursuits
Markets and offices are being fumigated with smoke from a type of grass called yuzarlik, used in herbal remedies, after President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov said burning it would ward off the virus - despite there being no evidence. 
But unlike most of the world, daily life in Turkmenistan continues as normal. 
Cafes and restaurants are open. Crowds gather for weddings. Nobody wears masks and mass events are going ahead.
It appears the country is in denial about admitting the major threat posed by coronavirus.  Why might that be? The World Health Day mass cycle may provide an explanation.
President Berdymukhamedov is the biggest star and the main focus of the annual event. 
The image of health is part of his cult of personality. State TV regularly shows him lifting weights in the gym, or cycling on his bike. He is the main driver of "health and happiness" campaigns in which state employees wearing identical uniforms do their morning exercises. 
The main message of all these events is that the nation is healthy, and thus happy, thanks to the president.
Mr Berdymukhamedov proclaimed his presidency as the "era of might and happiness". And an outbreak of Covid-19 could expose how hollow his messages are.  
It is for this reason the Turkmen government might try to conceal an outbreak, even if its citizens do get infected. 
And that is what worries Prof McKee. 
"We have seen how the Covid-19 infection moved rapidly from China to all parts of the world. In this globalised economy that we now live in, every country is only as secure as the weakest country in the world," he said. 
"Even if other countries manage to get the epidemic under control, there is a risk of continued seeding of infections from those countries that have failed to. It seems that Turkmenistan may well be another example."

February 26, 2020

The President-Turkmenistan Discourages Computers on The Population,How Many Can U See?

 How many computers do you see on the President's desk?

 As you can see by the photo above, The President has...  
a large amount of computers on his desk, however, he is discouraging the use of computers but as you look at his desk I can see 6. The Presidents and Prime ministers of the largest world countries only have on their desks. This is the way his brain works. 'Let me have all the information and then I will spoon feed it to you'. He understands that computers open the eyes and brains of the population but it is not something you can shut down like a spigot. He seems to want to be the filter of the information but a President can not be both. Successful leaders from countries that were repressive in the past are able to have smart and active populations working for the good of the country.  They come up with inventions and make the computers download faster so that you only need one for all your work.

The population of Turkmenistan which I have very much respect for has become one of my main readers. This since a young Doctor had to disappear after he came out. I covered this story which was followed by many people around the world particularly the United States. And in return, this smart population is been following my media blog. The Doctor is back and so is family is back but the whole incident shows the unacceptance of Turkistan's own citizens for the people they are.

There will be awful prospects in the future for the general population, not finding jobs in a sector like agriculture which is no longer something that can sustain people's life. On the other hand, technology can. Being Gay or LGBT is not something you can tell unless they tell you, sometimes people are shocked that the Doctors and professional that the care of them are indeed gay.  And so what? People are people and you can not take away what makes up in their genes who they are. What is the government afraid of? Whatever gays they have they already have them! And more will keep on being born. This is nature and it happens in every nation.

Still, LGBT people are a minority and are impossible to be more than that because nature decided that millions of years ago. Check with any international zoo and they will tell you they have animals of the same sex bedding together. To be inhuman to people because of who they are and who they love is a sin in every religion. I studied the religions of the world in my years in the seminary and one thing is obvious in every category of people and is they followed certain commandments and ignore others. Not abusing mentally or bodily of any human being overpasses any other rule which might have been imposed at the time, hundreds of years ago. This is the 20th Millenium and people do not like to be treated like ignorant sheep directed by a Sheppard. God is given us a brain and independence as humans to make our own decisions live our lives which are very short in this world.

What government or people have the right to shorten our lives by imposing morals they themselves don't follow or morals that go against a human being? Being happy has nothing to do with being rich or poor but being ourselves, not the people someone else wants us to be.
"To err is human to avoid it is foolishness"
Adam Gonzalez

Controlling what the population can be as a human being and what they can eat is a road to the precipice

Often seen with several laptops on his big office desk, it was a bit peculiar when the mercurial president of Turkmenistan called for his citizens to beware of the health hazards of spending too much time using modern gadgets.

"Because of the development of modern technology and information systems, many children and adolescents, as well as people of all ages, spend too much time on their computers, mobile phones, and tablets," Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov told parliament on February 11 in a speech shown on nationwide state news programs. 

"This leads to people being less physically active... Such a lifestyle negatively impacts the eyesight and causes people to gain weight and other health problems," the president warned.

The government and society as a whole have an urgent duty to address the problem, he added.

While Berdymukhammedov did make valid points about the health hazards associated with spending an excessive amount of time on modern technology, it's unclear if the president is actually concerned about his people's well-being or whether he intends to perhaps further restrict their access to the Internet.

Many Turkmen connect to the Internet using their mobile phones, but the government strictly controls access and blocks viewers from going to independent news sites and all the major social media sites, such as Facebook and VKontakte.

Berdymukhammedov said the government and society, in general, should encourage the country's young people to learn national sports and games as well as Turkmen traditions.

He urged lawmakers and government officials to "further expand" awareness campaigns among the youth about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, proper nutrition, and engaging in physical fitness and sports.

In power since 2006, Berdymukhammedov also emphasized the importance of educating children about Turkmen culture, art, language, and history.

A trained dentist, the authoritarian president often speaks about engaging in a healthy lifestyle and is frequently shown on state television lifting weights in a gym, cycling, or horse riding -- a luxury that most Turkmen cannot afford. Turkmenistan holds an annual special week of "health and happiness," with government officials ordering people to take part in compulsory exercise sessions and long walks.

The government has also taken measures to restrict smoking and the consumption of alcohol.

Turkmenistan has recently prohibited the use of mobile phones in schools and several parents have been fined after their children were found to be violating the ban.
Written by Farangis Najibullah based on reporting by RFE/RL's Turkmen Service

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