10 Turkmen Doctors Barred from Leaving Turkmenistan for US Exchange
Ambassador Robert Patterson, recently confirmed by the US Senate as envoy to Turkmenistan, said at his nomination hearing that he hoped to focus on people-to-people exchanges as an incremental step on the way to lessening restrictions on civil society.
Even before he arrives in Ashgabat, his work is cut out for him.
On April 6, Turkmen authorities denied a group of Turkmen doctors from departing Ashgabat to take part in an exchange in the United States, the Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights (TIHR) reported.
The doctors from various medical institutions and government agencies under the Turkmen Ministry of Health Care were supposed to participate in a program organized through the US Embassy called "Community Connections." They were stopped at the Ashgabat airport at the passport control desk and barred from boarding the plane.
Similar action was taken against students headed for American-funded programs a year ago, but eventually the Turkmen authorities relented and permitted some of them to go abroad.
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