Human Rights Watch (HRW) is just one of many civil liberty organisations which have heavily criticised Turkmenistan’s new laws forbidding the ownership of satellite dishes.
Last week Turkmenistan banned satellite dishes saying they are “unsightly”.
HRW says that this latest action in not the first time the Turkmenistan authorities have attempted to curb its citizens’ interest in foreign satellite channels, but it seems to be the heaviest thrust yet to rid the country of dishes.
Radio Free Europe’s local correspondent Bruce Pannier writes: “The Turkmen government has always preferred to have a monopoly on the dissemination of information inside Turkmenistan. Access to satellite dishes, which in some cases cost only some $100, has broken the grip Turkmen authorities have tried to keep on information, allowing citizens to watch or listen to programming from many sources, including Azatlyk [the Turkmen service of RFE/RL].”
Radio Free Europe has itself been the target of intensive criticism from Turkmenistan’s tough regime.
Those same authorities are saying that viewers can watch the nation’s heavily censored cable TV systems, which do not carry international news channels.