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Autumn draft to the Turkmen army launched

Parents who have sent their sons to undergo a medical check-up in the military registration and enlistment office are waiting for their sons' return back home. But often, after undergoing a medical exam procedure, young people are sent immediately to the railway station and then to military units to do their two year military service.

Cell phones are confiscated in the military enlistment office and young people are unable to inform even their parents that they are being drafted into the army.

Upon arrival at the military units many extortions continue. Money, clothes, watches and other personal belongings are confiscated from newly-recruited conscripts by officers as well as senior soldiers.

40 manats ($14) a month is supposed to be paid to each conscript to purchase items of hygiene and underwear. Although conscripts sign the record book that they have received money, they are not given any cash. As a result, all draftees in the military barrack use the same razor and several soldiers share one toothbrush.

Until the parents find out the whereabouts of their sons and send money or living essentials, conscripts wear worn-out socks and boots barefoot thus developing foot mycosis.

The majority of parents come to visit their sons in the military units as soon as they find out where they are doing their military service. In order to get a leave warrant for a day, 30 manats ($10,5) on average needs to be paid to an officer.

Moreover, the bulk of what was brought by the parents for their son goes to a senior officer. "Experienced" parents, i.e. those whose elder sons have already completed their military service, bring separate gifts for commanding officers� food, liqueur, a suit or a cell phone.

If a conscript returns to the military unit from leave without any gifts or an amount of money to be handed over to senior soldiers, he can be severely beaten.

At the same time, no marching, PE or even military training classes are offered. Many soldiers who have completed their military service say that they were allowed to hold a gun once during the entire service � when taking an oath.

"This is not the army, but a prison where you have to spend two years surrounded in a confined space at the disposal of commanding officers" – says Resul K. who returned to civilian life this spring – "Such an army does not have any benefit whether to the country, to the young people themselves, or their parents".

Source: TIHR