Predator

Gurbanguly BERDYMOUKHAMMEDOV

29 June 1957



President of the Republic of Turkmenistan since 2006

Predator since taking office


 Turkmenistan, 178th/180 countries in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index



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Dear [Name of Candidate],

I am writing to ask you what you plan to do to defend the First Amendment, freedom of the press, and the fundamental rights of journalists to practice their profession freely in what has become an increasingly hostile environment for information and news providers.

The United States, which enshrines press freedom in the First Amendment of its Constitution, is currently witnessing a drastic decline in media freedom. On June 28, one of the most horrific attacks on press freedom in the United States occurred when five employees, including four reporters, were killed at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland. According to the US Press Freedom Tracker, which comprehensively documents press freedom violations in the US committed by national, state, and local authorities as well as private individuals, 33 journalists were arrested, 43 were physically attacked, and 15 seizures of journalists’ equipment occurred in 2017. In one of these incidents, Rep. Greg Gianforte physically assaulted a Guardian journalist the night before his state’s election. While covering the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, journalists were impersonated on social media, impeding their ability to accurately investigate the facts and disseminate information which could be vital to preventing a similar tragedy. This hostility towards the press not only risks compromising the American public’s right to be informed through journalists’ reporting, but can also degrade the public’s trust in the media itself.

This is not a partisan issue; it is a fundamental right that impacts every American no matter their politics. Journalism is at the crux of our democracy, and communities everywhere rely on journalists to provide them with information that is essential to their daily decision-making processes. It was local investigative journalist Curt Guyette who broke the story about Flint, Michigan’s lack of access to clean water in 2014, prompting years of class-action lawsuits, protests, and subsequent federal assistance to the city in order to try to resolve the crisis. Reporters Megan Twohey, Jodi Kantor, and Ronan Farrow publicized sexual assault allegations against influential Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein in 2017, leading to the ubiquitous and powerful #MeToo movement which brought decades of sexual abuse and harassment across multiple industries to light.

Yet freedom of the press in the US is currently in dire need of congressional support. It is our civic duty as one of the world’s leading democracies to uphold principles that support and protect the rights of journalists so that they may hold those in power accountable and ensure an informed and engaged community.

If you are elected, what do you plan to do to protect this utterly essential component of our democracy? What are your plans to protect the public’s right to be informed through a free and independent press?

Sincerely,
[Your name]
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Hello, my name is _______ and I am from [city, state].

I’m calling to let you know that [candidate/representative]'s stance on freedom of the press is extremely important in my decision to vote. I feel that this is not a partisan issue, but a fundamental right that impacts every American no matter their politics.

I have become increasingly concerned with the growing climate of hostility for journalists in this country, and I would like for [candidate/representative] to publicly address what they will do to defend press freedom if [he/she] is elected.

Thank you.
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Freedom of the press is suffering in the US. @[yourcandidate] if you are elected to serve in Congress, what are your plans to protect journalists and our right to be informed? Will you #DefendPressFreedom?

Democracy depends on a free and independent press and its ability to hold those in power accountable. [@yourcandidate] will you take measures to protect journalism and the First Amendment? Will you #DefendPressFreedom?

In June, four reporters were murdered in an appalling targeted attack on the Capital Gazette and freedom of the press. [@yourcandidate] what will you do to address the growing threat to journalists in this country? #DefendPressFreedom

Press freedom is in steady decline in the US. I want my representative to defend the work of journalists as well as my right to be informed. [@yourcandidate] if you are elected what will you do to protect a free press? #DefendPressFreedom
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Journalists play a crucial role in our democracy by keeping us informed and holding those in power accountable. And yet in the US, attacks on journalists are becoming more common, undermining the media's role and creating opportunities for government overreach, the erosion of press freedom, and impeding our right to be informed. I’m contacting my candidates and encouraging them to defend press freedom during their midterm election campaign. Join me at DefendPressFreedom.com

A free press is essential to our democracy. Communities everywhere rely on journalists to report on our government’s actions and hold public figures accountable, providing us with the information we need to make decisions every day. And yet physical, verbal, and online attacks against journalists in the US are increasing at an astonishing rate. I’m contacting my candidates and encouraging them to defend press freedom during their midterm election campaign. You should too. Read more at DefendPressFreedom.com

Press freedom is declining in the US at an alarming rate. Physical, verbal, and online attacks against journalists have increased drastically in the last two years. As the US midterm elections approach, we must remind our congressional candidates that journalists play a crucial role in our democracy by keeping us informed and holding those in power accountable. I’m contacting my representatives and encouraging them to defend press freedom during their midterm election campaign. Join in and help me spread the word at DefendPressFreedom.com

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    PREDATORY METHOD: Totalitarian autocracy




    Since taking over as president, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has often used a reform discourse but the gulf between his words and reality could not be bigger. This is one of the world’s most totalitarian regimes. It adopted a media law in January 2013 that proclaims free speech and bans censorship. But that was pure window-dressing. The state continues to have a complete monopoly of the media, which are used to pump out propaganda, and punishes any deviation from the official line very severely.

     

    Since 2008, Berdymukhammedov has been waging a war against satellite dishes, which are used by the population to watch Russian, Turkish or Arabic TV channels and to escape the Turkmen state media’s controlled information and stifling propaganda. The only Internet available is a completely expurgated national intranet called “Turkmenet,” accessible only to those who show a passport and copy of a document attesting to ownership, rental or free use of the premises where the connection is installed. Use of VPNs is forbidden.

       

    FAVOURITE TARGETS: Clandestine reporters and exile journalists



    Several journalists have been detained arbitrarily in the most appalling conditions in recent years and journalists have not forgotten that Ogulsapar Muradova, a reporter for Radio Azatlyk, the Turkmen branch of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, died under torture in 2006. Radio Azatlyk correspondent Khudayberdy Allashov was subjected to electric shock torture while imprisoned in 2017, while the blogger Nurgeldi Halykov was given a four-year prison sentence on a trumped-up charge of fraud in 2020 after simply sharing a news website photo. There are hardly any independent journalists left in Turkmenistan, which has been reduced to a vast media desert. Journalists based abroad are attacked and harassed, as are relatives still in Turkmenistan. A few journalists in Turkmenistan still report clandestinely for independent media based outside the country, but they are subjected to unprecedented levels of persecution if caught and most have been forced to abandon their work.


    OFFICIAL DISCOURSE: Authoritarian pressure


    “The Turkmen media do not provide enough coverage of the state’s successes.” (Message to the media, January 2014).