Turkmenistan president marks Int’l Day of Neutrality with prisoner amnesty

ASHGABAT (TCA) — Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has pardoned 796 prisoners to mark the International Day of Neutrality marked on December 12, Turkmen state media reported.

The reports said Berdymukhammedov signed the amnesty decree on December 10 “following a long-established noble tradition.”

In 2017, the UN General Assembly declared December 12 as the International Day of Neutrality.

Turkmenistan has been recognized by the UN as a permanently neutral state since December 1995.

Berdymukhammedov, an authoritarian ruler who controls all aspects of Turkmen society, has issued amnesty decrees several times a year, usually on the eve of state holidays, RFE/RL’s Turkmen Service reports.

His last clemency, announced on September 24, pardoned 1,722 inmates on the eve of Independence Day, marked on September 27.

Such clemencies usually do not cover inmates convicted on politically motivated charges.

The President of Turkmenistan congratulated his compatriots on the International Neutrality Day, saying that “the neutrality is our greatest heritage recognized by the world community. This is a doctrine promoting peaceful coexistence and friendship, humanity and goodwill, cooperation and progress,” the State News Agency of Turkmenistan reported.

The legal neutral status of our state, which was recognized twice by the United Nations, improves the international authority of Turkmenistan as a country consolidating the efforts for strengthening of universal peace and solidarity, establishing the relations based on understanding and trust, Berdymukhammedov said in his address.