News & Politics

In Turkmenistan, It's Now Illegal to Say the Word 'Coronavirus'

(Image via Pixabay)

One of the few nations on earth not reporting any cases of the coronavirus is the Central Asian dictatorship of Turkmenistan.

Perhaps the reason for that is that the government of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has forbidden citizens to say the word “coronavirus” in public.

I’ll bet the politically correct police in the U.S. wish they had this kind of power to enforce a ban against using the term “Chinese virus.”

New York Post:

The Central Asian nation is ordering citizens to stop saying the name of the deadly illness that’s sweeping the globe — and even empowered police to detain anyone letting it pass their lips in public, the Independent says, citing local media.

Undercover “special” agents even eavesdrop on public conversations to stamp out any mention of the name, the UK paper says, noting reports on Radio Azatlyk.

The best residents can do is talk euphemistically about the coronavirus. Any safety measures enforced by the government only refer to protecting against “illness” and “acute respiratory diseases,” Radio Free Europe says.

Well, they can dream, can’t they?

More seriously, you have to feel for the people of Turkmenistan. They, like Brazilians who are stuck with a virus denier as president, are now in extreme danger — especially those in high-risk groups. New York Post:

It has left Turkmenistan one of the few nations reporting no confirmed cases of the virus — claims treated with suspicion by health experts outside of the notoriously secretive, closed country.

It is bordered to the south by Iran, one of the epicenters of the global pandemic that by Tuesday had reported more than 44,600 infections and nearly 3,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Other bordering nations — including Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan — have also registered hundreds of cases.

The Turkmen government’s “radical move to suppress all information about the pandemic” is only “putting its citizens in danger,” Reporters Without Borders (RSF) warned, confirming reports of arrests for uttering the word.

Berdymukhammedov has tried to “liberalize” the country. He’s re-opened the opera house and has allowed the circus to come to town. That shows you just how bad things used to be under the iron fist of the other “president for life” Saparmurat Niyazov. But it’s still illegal to meet without the permission of the government and if you stand up to disagree with the president, you might want to have a bag packed because you’re probably going away to prison for a while — if you’re lucky.

Imagine if you couldn’t use the terms “coronavirus” or “Chinese virus.” What would we call whatever it is that’s killing people?