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Turkmenistan Law Allows Some Public Demonstrations

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has signed a law that permits certain groups to hold "peaceful" public rallies starting June 1.

State-affiliated news website Zolotoi Vek said on March 12 that the new law specifies that "organizers of mass events can be citizens of Turkmenistan, parties, social groups, and religious organizations who accept responsibility for organizing and conducting mass events."

Rallies must be held at least 200 meters from government buildings, including the president's residence, and cannot be funded by individuals or foreign governments, it said.

Others barred from organizing rallies are "individuals declared incompetent or of limited competence by a court, those who are facing legal charges, any parties, groups or religious organizations whose activities have been suspended or are banned by the laws of Turkmenistan."

The report said the law "is aimed at realizing the constitutional right of citizens to peacefully gather."

It has been some two decades since the last anti-government rally in Turkmenistan and many of the participants in that event were branded drug addicts and alcoholics and jailed.

Based on reporting by Zolotoi Vek