This February’s presidential election in Turkmenistan, which declared Gurbanguly “The Protector” Berdymukhamedov winner of yet another five-year term with 97 percent of the vote, highlights the authoritarian regime’s disingenuous commitment to promoting post-independence democratic reform. Despite the adoption of legislation in January 2012 that legalized the formation of political parties, the OSCE declined to send an election-monitoring mission to Turkmenistan, citing a lack of real competition. Turkmen human rights defenders and opposition political activists who remain in the country continue to face house arrest, arbitrary detention, imprisonment following unfair trials, and torture.
Berdymukhamedov’s relentless crusade for autocratic power, leveraged by Turkmenistan’s natural gas reserves, poses a serious challenge for meaningful advances in human rights. Please join the Open Society Foundations for a discussion on how the aftermath of this February’s election will affect future prospects in Turkmenistan.