This election year, Americans are reminded and fatigued at how the campaign season drives rifts between various groups in the country. Wouldn’t you love instead to live in a nation where the President is so universally beloved, he is elected with a 97 percent majority? How about a country that celebrates an annual “Week of Happiness” to foster good health and high spirits? So would the people of Turkmenistan, whose government boasts these “facts.”
Yet, Turkmenistan remains one of the most closed and repressive regimes in the world. This is despite government policies intended to demonstrate the democratic liberalization and harmony to be found in Turkmenistan—such as the creation of two new political parties and the official “Week of Health and Happiness,” which essentially orders people to be happy and climb stairs.
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Maran Turner is the Executive Director of Freedom Now, an international organization that helps free prisoners of conscience and represents Messrs. Amanklychev and Khadzhiev. Craig Lewis, a partner at Hogan Lovells, is assisting Freedom Now as pro bono counsel.