Courageous Turkmen woman

Courageous Turkmen woman

11.2. 2021

Oguljamal Yazliyeva

A recent image posted on Facebook caught my attention. It illustrates a moment of a Turkmen woman with her child holding a rifle in her hands and defending her home from the enemy.


When I looked at this picture, for some reason, I saw the image of my former colleague Soltan Achilova, a veteran independent reporter in Turkmenistan. Something is in common between the woman in the painting and Soltan-Eje. It might be the courage or love for the homeland that integrates these two women.

According to historical records, Turkmen women, along with men, bravely stood before the outside threat with their guns when their homeland was in danger. It is evidenced by the historic event, the Geokdepe Battle of January 12, 1881, the decisive battle of Tsarist Russia’s invasion of Central Asia. I am proud that there were and still exist brave women nowadays in Turkmenistan. However, women have to go through difficulties and hardships in this country to protect their universal rights.

In social sciences, Turkmenistan is known as a country with an authoritarian regime. It may be proved by the repressive rules used against its people. The media is suppressed and totally under government control. It serves only the authoritarian regime, glorifying the cult of personality of the state leader. Independent journalists and their family members are under constant persecution. Critic against the government policy is forbidden in this country.

Despite such restrictions, Soltan-Eje, of 71, has been doing her journalistic work for several years now in the world’s most violent authoritarian country. Despite being subjected to psychological and physical pressure, Soltan-Eje tells the world about human rights violations. Soltan-Eje is a woman who has set an example of courage in conditions of authoritarian regime. She bravely has chosen the most dangerous path – serving her people by putting her life and the lives of her loved ones in danger.

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Her weapon is her camera and her honest words. They snatched her camera from her hand, intimidated her and her family members. She lost her son, who committed suicide but Soltan-Eje did not deviate from her chosen path. She dedicated her life to the people bravely.

Today I am so proud of Soltan-Eje. I witness the celebration of her achievements. Soltan Achilova is among the finalists of a prestigious international award – the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders. Congratulations, dear Soltan-Eje! You deserve the love and respect of the people to whom you continue to serve.

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