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Turkmenistan reportedly bans use of the word ‘coronavirus.’ Say it and you can be arrested.

Putting lives at risk

Photo by STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images

Turkmenistan's President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov has reportedly banned any use of the word "coronavirus" — and people who utter the word are likely to be arrested.

What are the details?

According to a Tuesday NPR report, Berdymukhamedov — who has been in power in the central Asian nation since 2006 — banned the use of the word. NPR cited various reports from Reporters Without Borders and the Chronicles of Turkmenistan.

Such reports say that Berdymukhamedov and his government have forbidden its state-controlled media from using the word. Berdymukhamedov has also reportedly removed the word from all written literature.

Reporters Without Borders insists that Berdymukhamedov's government, in suppressing information about the deadly pandemic, is only putting citizens in danger.

Jeanne Cavelier, head of Reporters Without Borders' Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk, said, "This denial of information not only endangers the Turkmen citizens most at risk, but also reinforces the authoritarianism imposed by President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov. We urge the international community to react and to take him to task for his systematic human rights violations."

The Independent also reported that Berdymukhamedov has authorized arrests if citizens do not comply.

Reports say that Berdymukhamedov is hell-bent on quashing all talk of coronavirus because he "portrays himself very much as a superman of all trades, the one in charge, the one to be revered and listened to."

Berdymukhamedov's government insists that the country does not have any COVID-19 cases at the time of this writing.

The central Asian country is bordered by Iran, which, at the time of this writing, has seen at least 47,593 coronavirus cases. At least 3,036 have died in Iran because of the virus.

Other nations bordering Turkmenistan — including Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan — have also reported a large influx of cases over the last several weeks.

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