Starting from July 1 2015, it will be allowed to hold rallies in Turkmenistan. The law on assemblies, rallies and demonstration, approved by Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov in Mar 2015, is aimed to show that Turkmenistan is a democratic state and can be partner to the European Union and the United States.
The 20 articles of the law specify the terms for a rally. The key precondition is that the organizers – unless it is one picketer – should notify the authorities beforehand. They should not use masks or have arms or objects that can be used as arms.
The law is aimed to protect the Turkmens’ constitutional right to hold peaceful assemblies. It says that a rally can be organized by one or several adults, who are citizens and permanent residents of Turkmenistan, or by political parties and non-governmental and religious organizations.
People with some criminal past as well as banned parties and NGOs have no right to hold such actions. The law prohibits rallies sponsored from abroad.
According to senior researcher from the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences Shokhrat Kadyrov, this law does not yet mean democracy in Turkmenistan. “With the current foreign political and economic crisis, curfew would be more appropriate for Turkmenistan than public freedoms. As for democratic reforms, they imply not only freedom of assembly but also freedoms of speech, press, conscience, religion, etc.. Even if the Turkmen authorities are actually committed to build democracy in their country, starting with the freedom of assembly was not the best option. They should have started with the freedom of press as it is the press that shapes public opinion,” Kadyrov says.
He believes that the true goal of the law is to help the Turkmen authorities to detect their potential enemies.