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“They take people, keep them for 30 or 40 days, and torture them until they give somebody’s name.
“[Ankara] is a very important partner because Turkey has been a major origin of [foreign direct investment] in Turkmenistan,” said Professor Luca Anceschi, an expert on Central Asian studies at the University of Glasgow.
The Turkish government, an important partner for Turkmenistan, accuses Gülen, the leader of a global Islamic movement with deep roots in Central Asia, of masterminding the failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15.
Ankara is engaging in an ongoing purge of alleged Gülen followers at home, and has pressured countries hosting many of Gülen’s followers to crack down on the movement.
“They were suspected of promoting Islam, which is something over which the state wishes to retain control,” said Clement, whose book charting the history of education in Turkmenistan is due for publication next year.
“There has [also] been some tension between followers and the rest of society.” Some believed the schools made students more religiously conservative, “behavior that made parents uncomfortable,” Clement added.
Anceshci said Turkey is one of the few countries to which Turkmen citizens can travel with reasonable ease.