Re: Is Berdi reading neweurasia?
neweurasia‘s Averroes has asked, “Is a certain someone checking out neweurasia and not liking what he reads?” and linked to an RFE/RL story about a recent speech by Berdimuhammedov to Turkmenistan’s State Security Council on monitoring independent media (a portion of the speech is available on the official government website). Well, it just so happens that there was a brief discussion in www.teswirler.com, a Turkmen language chat site, about the speech. The participants expressed fear at their president’s word because it wasn’t clear to them who precisely he would be targeting — critical media agencies alone, or their readers, too? As one of them said, Berdimuhammedov is essentially saying to his people, “shut your mouth or I’ll shut it for you.”
Besides media, Berdimuhammedov also warned against international terrorism, drug smuggling, and “the implantation in our country of nationalist and radical religious movements.” Those remarks are cryptic enough to make a person wonder whether the regime knows something its public doesn’t, or if the authorities are preparing for another systematic crackdown of even the most mundane and normal of patriotic and religious expressions. One of the participants in this same teswirler conversation (which has since been erased from the website, so I will not mention anyone’s nicknames) asked,
“Who does he mean by ‘radical religious people’? We have no Taliban or Al Qaida members in Turkmenistan. So then, it means Turkmen-Turkish school pupils.”
Another participant interpreted the speech to mean all criticism is banned, which prompted another participant to cry that he wanted to leave the country. A patriotic participant had this to say to his rulers:
“I consider myself to be a nationalist. I love my nation. Let them fight against me, let’s see how they fight.”
Finally, I think this person’s remark was the best of all:
“If a person is not allowed to speek freely it means ithere is no democracy. It seems that he [Berdimuhamedov] is trying to prove democracy through the opposite way, by the means of force. But if the enemies of democracy were allowed to speak freely no one would believe their slanderous words because they would say if your country is indeed not a democratic state, why are they not throwing you into prison?”
So, I would say there’s more under attack than critical media. To what extent there’s a real threat of radicalism infecting the country is another debate, but it’s clear to at least some of Turkmenistan’s netizens that the authorities are only going to use it, real or not, as yet another rationale to obliterate real liberalization and modernization.