Turkmenistan confiscating sat-dishes

Officials in Ashgabat in Turkmenistan are continuing to dismantle satellite dishes. Ashgabat authorities are continuing to dismantle private satellite dishes in densely populated neighbourhoods. In place of the dismantled equipment their owners are "offered" a chance to sign up for cable television with a fixed choice of channels.

Along with that, authorities are introducing payment for setting up and running cable networks. According to BBC Monitoring which carried the report, citizens are alarmed that the set of channels can be changed arbitrarily by authorities, and authorities also have the possibility of turning off broadcasts practically in all densely-populated districts of Ashgabat at once, and in future, in the entire city.

The satellite dish dismantling campaign was triggered by the Turkmen president's remark at the beginning of this year that "satellite dishes make the city look ugly". Rights activists have even more cause to be concerned about authorities' actions aimed at suppressing human rights, in particular, denying the right for free information access, since Turkmenistan's authorities created a special commission for censorship.

The commission is tasked with assessing "the artistic value of creative work", and has the authority to ban works of literature, the staging of plays, the making of films and also demonstration of any films in cinemas and on television. Thus, authorities have restricted freedom of creativity, freedom of speech and expression.