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Turkmenistan Preventing Students From Returning To Kyrgyzstan

Students at Turkmenistan's Magtymguly State University in Ashgabat

Students at Turkmenistan's Magtymguly State University in Ashgabat

LEBAP, Turkmenistan -- Turkmen officials are attempting to stop university students from returning to Kyrgyzstan to continue their studies in the wake of ethnic violence there, RFE/RL's Turkmen Service has learned.

Some 650 Turkmen students left Kyrgyzstan's southern city of Osh in the wake of deadly clashes between ethnic Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in June. Most of them are from Turkmenistan's eastern province of Lebap.

The students in Lebap are being summoned by local officials who demand they sign written statements vowing not to go back to Kyrgyzstan to continue their studies, some of those involved say. The students' parents have asked the Education Ministry for an explanation for the actions but have received no reply.

One parent told RFE/RL on condition of anonymity that the ministry officials told him they would not give any explanation because the students were not studying in Kyrgyzstan under a government-supported program.

Many of the parents have sent a letter to President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov asking him to intervene on their behalf.

Last year, authorities in Turkmenistan barred hundreds of Turkmen students from returning to the Bishkek-based American University of Central Asia to continue their studies under the Turkmen-American Scholarship program. Many of them were eventually allowed to go to a university in Bulgaria.