Eurasia.net is reporting that Turkmenistan’s dictatorial regime is now blocking cell phone transmissions inside its prisons, where mobiles are already illegal. (Mobile smuggling is something of a commonplace in many of the Central Asian Republics, especially where they can function as a modern-day Samizdat.) The tenor of the story is that this is particularly awful as it cuts off Turkmenistan’s prison population, who are fairly cut off as it is, from outside contact.
This misses the forest for the trees. Turkmenistan is basically the seventh layer of Hell. The best thing you can say about it is that there is currently no genocide in progress there. Show trials, summary executions, political prisoners, beatings, and prisons that defy human understanding are everyday things there.
There are already credible reports of vicious floggings of prisoners caught with mobiles; Turkmenistan is merely taking advantage of modern technology to do what it has historically done with a method that has proven only mildly effective since ancient times.
The true problem is that aside from the occasional report from Freedom House or Human Rights Watch (or a show by Jennifer Lopez), no one particularly notices what happens in this, perhaps the most locked-down of the former Soviet republics. And so a nation of prisoners will continue to languish, as the ones unfortunate enough to be behind dark walls merely go slightly more silent than the rest.
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