Turkmen appeal to the president for justice
by Vladimir Rozanskij

Direct line of communication between citizenship and Serdar Berdymuhamedov. Most of the requests for assistance concern social issues. Authorities ignore appeals over human rights abuses.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - The website turkmen.news has published information on some employees of the Turkmen Ministry of the Interior who are said to be in charge of collecting appeals addressed to President Serdar Berdymuhamedov. The leader of Turkmenistan urged the population to address their demands and complaints directly to him.

The offices to collect materials for the president are located in the 'Adalat Košgi' (see photo), the Palace of Justice in Ašgabat, where the Ombudsman apparatus, the person responsible for people's rights, as well as the city court and the Supreme Court of Turkmenistan are also located. According to published reports, the efficiency of these facilities leaves much to be desired, and in August the situation worsened to coincide with the managers' holidays.

One witness recounted the biblical queues that petitioners have to stand in, first passing through the controls of the security services, which search all visitors and confiscate their phones, and then record their data in a special register. One morning a week, on a Thursday, the supreme judge receives the applicants personally, on the other days his deputies take turns, but in reality it is the secretaries who talk to those who come to them, writing down their requests in a notebook. Every day at least fifty arrive, but only a few of them manage to get a hearing.

The ombudsman is a woman, Jazdursun Gurbannazarova, and she receives every day on a full-time basis, but even to reach her there are filters that are difficult to overcome, and above all she does not seem very competent in the field of rights. The 2021 report shows that the issues of freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religious confession are not close to her heart, nor are those of slave labour in the cotton fields, discrimination against women or the like. She tells of the wonderful successes of the Turkmen state, with some concessions to the social guarantees of subsidies and support for the unemployed with the citizenship income.

In fact, most of the requests for assistance concern social issues, particularly housing problems related to evictions and the demolition of houses to build new urban spaces, a craze of the Turkmen leadership that recently led to the destruction of entire neighbourhoods in Ašgabat such as Čogany and Šora. There are several calls for justice for unjustified charges and detentions, with no room for the presumption of innocence. In general, the applicants leave the Palace rather frustrated.

The most efficient office of the Adalat Košgi is occupied by the deputy interior minister, who spends his time fabricating criminal cases against undesirable political activists, often with invented motives or forcing the code. In September, the Security Council of Turkmenistan is expected to take stock of the work of these justice bodies for the first half of 2022, and the resignation of the head of the Ministry of Interior, Gurbanmirat Annaev, is expected.

Serdar Berdymuhamedov is trying to distinguish himself by replacing inefficient officials en masse, but it will be difficult for whoever arrives to shake the deep-rooted Turkmen custom of retaining power and disregarding the needs of the common people, or to stop the persecution of anyone who tries to shed some light and spread some news about real life in the darkness of one of the most closed countries in the world, like Turkmenistan.