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Turkmen taboo




The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is not a scourge as far as prisoners are concerned. At least not to the 80,000 prisoners in Iran that reportedly have been released to prevent mass infection.

Prisons in other countries are also decongesting in the same way for the same reason. In other countries though, it is being defeated ironically by the arrest of thousands for violating coronavirus-related regulations, such as curfews and lockdowns.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) reported arresting from 17 to 29 March around 17,000 curfew violators, mostly in Metro Manila. Fortunately, they were just warned and not sent to already overcrowded jails.

In Serbia, three people have been given hefty prison sentences of up to three years for breaking self-isolation rules imposed in response to the coronavirus pandemic, local media have reported.

In Taiwan, police recently caught a man partying in a Taipei nightclub when he was supposed to be doing 14-day mandatory self-isolation at home after returning from Southeast Asia. He was fined Tw$1 million ($33,000).

In Spain, a Tenerife bar owner has been fined for violating a coronavirus lockdown by serving shoppers at a supermarket next door, according to police.

In Norway, a court has sentenced a man to 75 days in prison for threatening to spit on a police officer while saying he had the coronavirus.

In strict Singapore, police are enforcing the one-meter distance on people and violators face fines of up to S$10,000 ($7,000) or be arrested and face up to six months in jail.

While newly-introduced laws in many countries can lead to arrest for causing or trying to cause the infection of others, one country’s law is different. In the central Asian country of Turkmenistan, wearing a face mask to prevent COVID-19 infection can lead to arrest and jail time.

The former Soviet republic refuses to recognize the existence of the virus that already has infected more than a million people worldwide. In fact, anyone in the country talking about and mentioning the word “coronavirus” would be arrested and jailed.

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