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Mail censorship. Why hide the obvious?

The Turkmen customs officers read the correspondence in front of the senders, referring to the compliance manual.

It is a well known fact that a customs officer is assigned to each post office. He is supposed to inspect the contents of the parcel packages sent by the Turkmenistan's residents and verify them against the list of items which are permitted to be shipped abroad and their quantity.

Starting from May, the customs officers are allowed to get access to the letters enclosed in the parcel packages.

"Early June I was sending a parcel package to my sister, who resides in Ukraine", - says a Dashoguz resident Islam I. "I was surprised to see the customs officer reading the letter addressed to my sister after he thoroughly checked the contents of the parcel shipment. When asked why he was reading the letters addressed to other people he replied that they are supposed to look through the mail correspondence in accordance with their job description".

In May 2008 a retiree Anna P. was sending a parcel to her children from a post office in the city of Turkmenabat. After inspecting the contents of the parcel, the customs officers started looking through the letters. When asked indignantly why he was reading the letters the customs officers replied that he was instructed to do so.

The customs officers review the photos and birthday cards enclosed in the postal shipments. The documents sent via registered mail are required to be brought to the post office unsealed and the senders are allowed to seal them only after their contents have been checked.

It is an open secret that in all totalitarian countries the letters and correspondence are subjected to thorough inspection by the special services. However, this is done in secrecy. This practice was also rampant under Niyazov's presidency.

Checking the correspondence in front of the senders is the know-how introduced by the present-day high-ranking officials from the special services. Apparently, the authorities, in their innocence, decided not to hide the obvious on the grounds that it is an open secret.

In the majority of cases the addressees receive the letters sent by their families and relatives from Russia, Kazakhstan and other countries in unsealed envelopes.

Regrettably, the Turkmenistan's customs officers are not aware of the principle "privacy of correspondence". Furthermore, they are not at all concerned about violating the constitutional rights of the citizens. It is useless to appeal to the moral principles of those who are guided by job instructions in their work and furthermore, in everyday life.

Is it likely that those high-ranking officials who draft regulations and compliance manuals which directly violate the rights of the citizens will at least care about the honour of the country if they do not take care of the esprit de corps?

Source: TIHR