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Violations of Religious Freedom in Turkmenistan in 2020

Violations of Religious Freedom in Turkmenistan in 2020

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Turkmenistan, also known as Turkmenia, is one of the sovereign countries in Central Asia. It is located next to a lot of well known Asian countries such as Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Iran. It is also bordered by the Caspian Sea in the west side. This country has the lowest population count among all other Central Asian Republics and one of the lowest counts in the whole Asian continent. People from this country are called Turkmenistanis.  Although this country may seem small, they actually hold the fourth largest reserve of gas in the whole world. 

Up to this current world, Turkmenistan remains as one of the most repressive countries in the world alongside North Korea. Just like the former, Turkmenistan also has a lot of human rights violations and has a very strict travel ban to their people. They are also known as the 3rd worst press freedom in the entire world. More than 93% of the country’s population are Muslims and more than 6% are Christians. On the other hand, the remaining percentage are for the other religions that are made available to them. A lot of religious minority groups are actually very much criticized just because of their religion and beliefs. Most of them practice their religion while they are arrested, not allowed to travel, confiscating documents about religion, defamation, imprisoned, and tortured. A person is also not allowed to be homosexual or take part in a homosexual act.

The Turkmen government’s human rights record has seen no improvements from 2019. The government brutally punishes all the unauthorized forms of religious and political expression. Access to information is tightly controlled by the state as they implemented the total absence of media freedom in Turkmenistan.  As per freedom of religion, the state strictly forbids unregistered congregations and religious groups. Even religious literature is censored by the authorities. Unauthorized religious activities are harshly punished by the state. Dozens of forcibly disappeared are presumably held in Turkmen prisons.

Turkmenistan also offers no alternative military service and those who try to object will face persecution. Incidents have been continually reported around the country, including the detainment of 9 young Jehovah’s witnesses by the end of 2019. These nine men are all conscientious objectors and were imprisoned for refusing compulsory military service. According to a Jehovah’s Witnesses report, nine young men between ages of 18 to 26 have been detained at labor camps in Turkmenistan. 

Turkmenistan’s record in religious freedom has caused the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (USCIRF) to label it as one of the CPCs (Country of Particular Concern) repeatedly since 2014. Though the country’s constitution claims that they guarantee religious freedom, the Turkmen government has frequently violated this stipulation in reality. From freedom of media and information to other types of suppression, Turkmenistans continue to suffer under the authoritarian rule of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov and his associates. The people are continuously seeking for help and are hoping to find freedom one day.

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkmenistan

https://thediplomat.com/2020/01/9-young-jehovahs-witnesses-remain-detained-in-turkmenistan/

https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2020/country-chapters/turkmenistan

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