Dialogue  April - June, 2004 , Volume 5  No. 4



Foundation and Development of the Mass-Media of the Turkmen

 Living Abroad


S.K. Alaev



Trying to preserve their national identity and culture, the Turkmen living in the eastern countries and the Europe, publish magazines and newspapers in native language, have their own radio and television programmes. Iraqi Turkmen have a privilege in the sphere. Isolated from their original motherland for many centuries, Iraqi Turkmen from the very beginning of forming their national identity began to publish newspapers and magazines in their native language. About it was mentioned in the articles of Muhammed Khorshid Dagogly, Iraqi Turkmen, journalist of the newspaper “Yurt” published in Bagdad. His articles, written about the first Turkmen newspapers “Zura”, “Beshir”, “Mosul” and others, were published in Iraq at the end of XIX century. 

Further research is the thesis of the Turkmen journalist in Iraq, actually for the Doctor of Philological Sciences of Senan Said on “The press and literary problems of Iraqi Turkmen” and the booklet of Asam Muhammed Mahmud titled “Metbugata al Mosul” (“The press of Mosul”). More detailed work about the Turkmen press in Iraq was done by the Turkmen journalist, writer and Iraqi poet Ata Tarzi Bashi in his work “Kerkuk metbugatyn taryhy” (“The history of Kerkuk press”), published in Keokuk in 2001. In his work the author wrties in detail on the three stages of the development of the Turkmen journalism in Iraq. The first stage begins from the Ottoman period in 1869 to 1921, the second stage from August 23, 1921 to July 13, 1958, the third stage from July 14, 1958 to March 3, 1985. From 1869 to 1985 in Iraq there were published more than 30 different Turkmen magazines and newspapers in Turkmen, Arabic and Englsih.

So, to the first stage belongs the first Turkmen newspaper “Zura” (an old name of Bagdad). It began to be published under Mithad Pasha in 1869. At that time Mithad Pasha was a viceroy of the Ottoman empire in Bagdad region. He was not only an experienced administrator, but also a good editor. His editorial abilities were marked earlier in the Danube region, where under his leadership was published the newspaper “Danube”. Printing machines for publishing the newspapers “Zura”, “Beshir” and “Mosul” were brought from France. The newspapers “Zura” was published in Bagdad upto 1917. Within 48 years of its existence, 2,606 issues of that newspaper were published in Arabic script in Turkmen and it Arabic languages. Principal assistants in the edition of the above-mentioned newspapers were Khasan Azum, Ahmet Fahmi, Abbas Hamadi, Fahmi al Medres, Jemal Sadyk, Ahmet Azat al Farooqi, Ali Reza al Farooqi, Ahmed Azaddin, Ahmet Shafi, Mahamud Shekari al Rasi Zade, Abdalmejid Shafi, and others.


*Serdar Kakamuradovieh Alaev, Head of History Department Mugtumguly University, Ashgabat,

 Turkmenistan, is presently head of the Department, “History of World Turkmen”, the Institute of

 History under the Cabinet of Minister of Turkmenistan.


In 1871 Mithat Pasha was called back to Istanbul where he continued publishing his newspaper, but now under another name. Further, because of the political prejudice of the Ottomen government Mithat Pasha was sent to the Rodos island, where he wrote his best works such as “The Turk in Paris”, “Durdane Khanum”, “Zifa” and many others. He lived for 75 years and wrote more than 150 articles devoted to history, literature, pedagogics, and philosophy.

The Turkmen press in Bagdad region also developed under Fuzi Pasha, who became the governor in Kerkuk in 1880. Under him in 1897 was found the editiorial organ of Turkmen press, the aim of which was the direction over publishing all the Turkmen newspapers and magazines in Turkmen and Arab languages in Iraq, which were mainly published in Bagdad, Mosul and Basra. Many newspapers and magazines were published in Turkmen and Turkish under different names, such as “Bagdad”, “Kilinch”, “Yyldyzym”, Yeni moda”, Efkari umumiye”, “Maaryf”, “Tombale”, “Jihat”, “Muktebabat”, “Mekdep”, “Ati”, “Nineva”, “Chenbaz”, “Osmanly ashinasy”, “Havadis”, Tejeddud”, “Nejme”, “Ileri”, “Afak”, “Beshir”, and others.

The second stage begins on 23 August 1921 with declaration of Iraq, the kingdom under the leadership of the British viceroy Amir Faisal. Within these years from November 15, 1926 was published the “Kerkuk” newspaper directed by Wejdi Efendi. As the time passed there were a number of leadership of the newspaper such as Dade Khidiri, Abdurahman Bekir, Yakub Jemal. The newspaper was published both in Turkish and English, but after the revolution of 1958 it was published in Arabic only, now under the name “Gavurbagi”. In 1935 the “Ileri” newspaper began to be published under the leadership of Bekir Sydki, Reshid Arif and Fahmi Arai Mustafa; the chief-editor of which was bekir Sydki. From May 8, 1954 the “Afag” (“Horizon”) newspaper was published under the leadership of Sheker Hormuzli, editor of which was Husemedin Sadyhi, but after the Kerkuk events of 1959 its publishing was stopped. With these events the third stage of the Turkmen press begins.

From September 23, 1958 the “Beshir” (an old name of Kerkuk) newspaper began to be published under the leadership of Emin Asri and Mehmet Hajy Izzat. The chief-editor was Ata Tarzifashy. This newspaper was published only for seven months and only 26 issues of the same came out. With the foundation of “Turkmen gardashlyk ojagy” (“Turkmen Friendship Hearth”) organization under the leadership of Abdullah Abdurahman in 1960s the “Friendship” journal began to be published since May 1, 1961 but in January, 1980 all it’s staff was arrested. From May 21, 1966 in Bagdad under the leadership of Sheker sabir Zafit began to be published the “Iraq” newspaper, the chief-editor of which was Hakki Ismail Bayathy. On July 18, 1970 the Turkmen newspaper “Yurt” come into being. The chief-editor of it was Abdyl Latif Emran Bender Ogly, who worked there almost uninterruptedly till the present days (only for three years from 1999 to 2002 he was substituted by Nuzad Abdylkerim – S.A.). Abdyl Latif is the author of more than 25 scientific and popular books and many articles. For his great services to advocate the Turkic language and literature in the newspaper “Yurt”, in 1992 the Academic Council of the University of Baku conferred the degree of a Doctor of Philological Sciences upon him. He also became famous in Turkmenistan, where the creative correspondence is kept between the newspapers “Yurt” and “The voice of Turkmen” (now “The world of Turkmen”) – publishing mean of the Humanitarian Association of the World Turkmen with its headquarters in Ashgabat. 

The Turkmen newspaper “Yurt” comes out once a week with capacity of 12-16 pages which are divided systematically into lines. The first line contains mainly translations from leading Arabic newspapers, speeches of political figures and so on. The second line is devoted to the advocation of the Turkic culture and literature, where is revealed creative works of not only Turkmen and Turkish, but also Azerbaijani poets and writers. Much space is given to the latter in the newspaper. For example, creative works of Azerbaijani poets and writers such as Bakhtiyar Wahab Zade, Agaati Juwad Ali Zade, Gazanfar Pashaev and many others are well highlighted. As far as the creative works of Turkmen poets Mahtymguly, Zelili, Kemine, Mollanepes is concerned; the Iraqi Turkmen know a few things about them. The chief-editor of the “Yurt” newpaper Abdul Latif Benden Oglu received the “selected poems of Mahtymguly “from Berdi Kerbabayev only in 1972. This is fact was mentioned in the “Yurt” newspaper of May 4, 1974. Such a friendly contact of Turkmen writer brought together Iraqi Turkmen with their historical motherland, gave them chance to understand the roots of Turkmen literature and culture. Under the leadership of Abdul Latif Emran Bender Ogly actually work such an experienced journalists as Heirulla Kasym, Kasym Sari Kahi, Sabah Abdulla Kerkukli, Hive Muhammed Ali. There are also Turkmen women journalists among them like Liman al Rafiqa, Eyman Abdal Hasina, Gidaya Abdal Kerima, and others. Interesting articles and poems of Turkmen authors of Iraq are presented in Arabic-Turkmen magazine “Birlik sesi” (“The voice of unity”) which has been published since 1970. The chief-editor of this magazine is Abdyl Fuat.

Besides Turkmen press in Iraq there are some newspapers and magazines published abroad by Iraqi Turkmen living out of Iraq. For example the “Fizuli” magazine has been published in Istanbul since 1958. The “Gardashlyk” magazine is also published in Istanbul under the leader-ship of S. Saatchi. There are a number of such newspapers like the “Dogush” published in Istanbul since August 15, 1991, “Turkmeneli” from January 15, 1994, magazine “Gokbori”, newspaper Turkmen” etc. The “El Delil” newspaper directed by “Islamic Union Organization” is published in Syria, Damascus. In Canada under the leadership of “Iraqi Turkmen Association” is published the bulletin under the name of “Turkmen”. In Sweden there are published the reports “The fate of Iraqi Turkmen”. In 1993 in Germany, Munich was published the album “The martirs of Iraqi Turkmen”. There are more political content in these works than literary one.

In line with the Turkmen press in Iraq there are also radio and television programmes which are broadcasted from Bagdad, Kerkuk and Erbil. For the first time the radio programme in Turkmen was broadcasted from Bagdad’s radio station on February 1, 1959. At first only half an hour was given for broadcasting. One of the first newscasters of it was Jemal Azaladin of Kerkuk, then Halil Ahmet Al-Hasani, Abduwahid Kuzechi Ogly, Abdulrahman Kyzyl Ay, Senan Said and many others. Turkmen channel included such programs as “Science and Life”, “Conversation with radio Listeners”, “Sparks of Turkmen culture”, School of literature”, “Trade”, “Night of Literature”, “Question of Women”, “Listeners speak”, Health”, Performances of the Turkmen theatre of Kerkuk, etc. Airtime of the Turkmen radio today lasts only for 3,5 hours. More details about contents of Turkmen press and radio station is published in Turkmenistan’s press. 

In April 2003 with the intrusion of the American and British armed forces in Iraq with the aim of overthrowing the regime of S. Hussein the mass media of Iraqi Turkmen had stopped for a while, and it functions only out of their country.

There is no any fundamental work on the mass media of Afghani Turkmen, but there is some information in the work of the Uzbek orientalist M. Nishanov “Press in the socio-political life of Afghanistan (1919-1978)” – Tashkent, 1993. In his work the author places the Turkmen newspaper “Goresh” among the democratic publications.

The first issue of the “Goresh” newspaper came out in Kabul on October 23, 1978 and it’s chief-editor was Sytdyh Emini. Turkmen intellectuals filled their columns with each year. Among them there were pioneers like Shirmuhammet Yengish, Shamuhammet Yazmaz, Asadulla Guwmi, Abdurahman Sohbet, Saleh Rasyh, Muhammet Emin, Abdurahman Oraz, Seydolla Sayadi and many others.

Turkish ethnographer Y. Kalafat who visited Afghanistan wrote the book “Turks of the Northern Afghanistan and their popular believes”- Stambul, 1994. According to the author, besides the “Goresh” newspaper and magazines like “Millet hai baradar”, “Enjumeny Novai”, in Turkmen language there were published such newspapers as “Dogny yol”, Jumbeshe meselesi”, “Nedai Islam” and “Rah”, but with the establishment of the Taliban rule over Afghanistan all of them were banned.

In connection with the civil war and intervention Turkmen, like many other nations exposed to the exile, were forced to move to Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Central Asian countries. In spite of difficulties in the days of migration Turkmens of Afghanistan try to preserve their national culture and native language. In 1998 Turkmen of Afghanistan founded the cultural association “Magtymguly Pyragy” in Pakistan, on the basis of which they publish the “Gunesh” (“Light”) newspaper. Today it is a magazine. It gave this name, because Turkmen escaped from war into the light of peace. Further, on Islamabad radio it was given 1 hour of air time for Turkmen program, and it’s newscaster was the Afghan Turkmen Shahymerdanguly Myzadi.

The broadcasting in Turkmen from Kabul began in 1960s, under Muhammed Zakhir Shah. An appeal of Turkmen delegation to the senior authority was forced, for that time the introduction of obligatory study of Pushtu in country, including the regions where Turkmen live, led to the situation that the native language became inaccessible for many Turkmen. After the long negotiations the elders headed by Abdulkerim Mahtum – in 1968-72 he was a deputy of Afghan mejlis – at last succeeded in getting the permission in the national house. Programmes in Turkmen last only for 45 minutes, and even that not every day.

At first upon the Turkmen programme of the radio worked Abdurahman Oraz and Allaberdi Surhi. However, the work was stopped in 1973. The military upheaval performed by the general Muhammed Daud gave a full vent to the repression; national radio stations were banned. Only several years later, at the end of 1970s after the April coup detat was made the decision to begin broadcasting in Turkmen, Uzbek, Beludje, Pashai and Nuristani. The radio station was called “Radio Millet-hai-baradar” (“Radio of brotherly nations”). The chief of the Turkmen section of this radio station was Abdulrahman Sohbet. After the seizure of the control over Afghanistan by Talibs in 1995 all these peaceful radio stations were closed. At present, when the peaceful life in Afghanistan has been restored, there is again a hope of rebuilding of what was missed. Today Turkmen-Afghan relations (between Independent, Neutral Turkmenistan and Afghanistan – S.A. ) give a great expectations that the Afghan Turkmens will gain more and more rights in satisfying their demands. An active role in gaining the alphabetical rights for Turkmen in Afghanistan is played by the organisation “Turkmen parahatchylyk shurasy” (“Peaceful council of Turkmen”) led by Jumabay Hamiyab. In 2003, they established the new publishing organ “Il sesi” (“The voice people”), the chief-editor of which became Sytdyh Emini – the former first editor of the “Goresh” newspaper. A plenty of information on contents of the press and radio station of the Afghani Turkmen is published in the press of Turkmenistan. 

The history of foundation of the press and radio of the Irani Turkmen was published by A. Sarli, the Iranian journalist, historian, and Iranian Turkmen by his origin. The author in his magazine “Fragi” of 2002, issue 7 placed the article “The press and printing of the Iranian Turkmen”. Though the author writes that the first Turkmen press began it’s work after the revolution of February in 1979, there is an information that the Iranian Turkmen began to publish their newspaper “Sedai Gorgan” (“The voice of Gorgan”) the chief-editor of which was Abbas Galesh in Gorgan town (where the Turkmens live –S.A.) just after the World War II. But the Shah’s secret service “Sawak” closed the newspaper the newspaper and treated it’s staff very severely because of the political motives.

Only after the February revolution of 1979 in Turkmen-sahra region of Iran where the Turkmens live densely, their creative intellectuals began to establish their national press. With the improvement of relations of Turkmenistan with the IRI in 1991, the Iranian Turkmen got a big opportunity to advocate their cultural heritage. At first, from February 20, 1992 the “Durmush” (“Life”) magazine was published in Turkmen. The same year, on August 23 this magazine was renamed as “Ak yol” (“The white way”). Further in 1997, after the election of Seid Muhammed Khatami as a president of the IRI, the life of the Turkmen, their press and printing began to develop again. With the appearance of the new province Gulistan on the map of Iran, the Turkmen obtained the right for publishing their magazines and newspaper. In March 1998 the newspaper “Sahra” (Steppe”) began to be printed and the chief-editor of it was A. Diyeji, later in 2000 years the magazines “Yaprak” (The leaf”) – Y. Gojuk, “Fragi” – A. Sarli, “Hamzisti” (“To live together”) – T. Kazimi.

The representatives of creative Turkmen intellectuals Y. Gojuk, A. Sarli, A. Diyeji, T. Kazimi, N.Pakka, Y.Sakkali, A. Shadmehr, M. Atagozli, A. Pak, M. Ak, M. Jurjani, H. Kette, T. Kazili, Sufi Rad, Yakub Rahimi and many others took an active part in advocating the Turkmen culture and literature. The life of the Turkmen in Gulistan province and Turkmenistan is highlighted in such news-papers as Gulistan”, the chief editor of which is Foruzan Asif Nahi, “Nov” – Muhammet Azeri, “Gulshan mehr” – Ehsan Mekdefi, “Gorgane emruz”- Mustafa Sabati and others. The book “Ruhnama” of Saparmurat Turkmenbashy the Great was published in “Gulshan mehr” in March 9, 2002, issue 92. An article of Y. Aks is called “Turkmenistan and the Book “Ruhnama”.

In line with the press in advocating the cultural heritage is Gorgan radio, which began it’s work in 1958. One of the first newscasters in Turkmen was a village teacher Nunberdi Jurjani. This fact was noted in the book of Iranian author A. Moini “The geography and history of the Deshde – Gorgan district” (Tehran, 1966). Among the first radio journalists of Turkmen origin were Abdallatif Guli, Nazar Muhammed Gul Muhammedi, Jeppar Jri, Annakurban Kylych Tagani, Haji Muhammed Kylych, Musa Jurjani and others. Today they have been replaced with young radio journalists Gafur Jurjani, Abdylla Khojazade, Anoba Mahtumi (news department), Ilgeldi Emreli, Abdulrahman Niknomvev, Kurbandurdy Ketuly (announcers), Jeppar Sakkali, Yusup Parahi (gathering materials), Hosrov Kor (gathering materials on Turkmensahra). Among them also work Turkmen women such as Aysha Shihi, who runs the programmes “Listen to us”, and “family”. In 1981 the Turkmen broadcasting also functioned in Meshkhed and it was headed by Abdulla Fruzishi. The information of the Turkmen press of Iran and it’s radio station is published in the press of Turkmenistan.

So today Turkmens living abroad have a strong will to restore their national traditions and customs and a great intention to have their alphabetical rights ratified. However, there are some obstacles which must be overcome. For example, there is a need to create the one writing system among them. Further, there are still dialects kept in Turkmen, which also plays an important role in interrelation. All these questions should be solved in the near future. Mainly they should understand one another and then improve and fill up the visible gaps. It is mainly for these purposes that Saparmurat Turkmenbashy the Great – the leader of all Turkmen, founded the Humanitarian Association of World Turkmen in May 1991, objectives of which are to unite all our compatriots abroad and to establish the closer contracts.

From 1991 to 2003 Sapamurat Turkmenbashy the Great met 7 times with representatives of Turkmens living abroad. These meetings brought good results. The main thing is to show the compatriots to the people of Turkmenistan, and for the Turkmens living abroad – their historical motherland, Independent Neutral Turkmenistan. These meetings give a chance to gain close contacts in the fields of mother tongue, literature, art and culture. And the mass-media will serve these purposes.


1.  “Yurt”, 1977 May 3, 24, October 13, March 29, April 14.

2.  Ata Tarzi bashi, “Kerkuk metbugat taryhy” - Kerkuk, 2002.

3.  Fadeyeva I.E. “Mithat pasha, life and activities” Moskow 1977, p.58

4.  Atayev S.K. “Iraqi literature at the modern stage”. Magazine “Ashgabat”, 1991, issue 4, p.69.

5.  Atayev S.K. “The history of the mass-media of the world Turkmen” (Politicheskiy sobesednik, 1994), A word an compatriots” – Ashgabat, 1991; “Radio stations of Turkmen in countries of the East.” (Izvestiya, Academy of Sciences of Turkmenistan. Social sciences series. 1992, issue 6); Kerkuk – the magazine of Iraqi Turkmen” – “Nesil” 28 September, 1993; “Yurt” and “Gardashlyk”. Turkmen sesi, April 1994; “Gardashylyk”- the magazine of Iraqi Turkmen.” Turkmen Lunyasi, November 2000.

6.  Yasar Kalafat. Kuzey Afganistan turkleri ve karsitrmali halk inanclari – Istanbul, 1994 – page 20.

7.  Atayev S.K. “Millet hai baradyz”- owgan jurnalynda – Turkmen dili – Turkmen sesi, 1999, April; Gepleyar Kabul” – Turkmenskaya Iskra, 1990, May 1; “Goresh” – owgan Turkmen gazeti – Eebiyat Turkmenlerin kopchulik habar berish serishdeleri – Turkmen sesi, 1998, December; Pakistanda ayda bir gezek dogan “Gunesh” – Turkmen sesi, 1998.

8.  Atayev S.K. “Durmush” eyran –turkmen gazeti – Edebiyat we sungat – 30 December 1992; Yol bolsun Ak yol – Turkmen sesi – 1993, September; “Govorit Gorgan” Politicheskiy sobesednik 1995, issue 10, p. 20; Yurkmen dili “Pragy”, “Gunesh” hem “Gawwa bagy” – Turkmen duhyasi, August 1999; “Yaprak” – Eyran turkmenlerinin journaly – Turkmen dunyasi – January 2001.

9.  Atayeb S.K. Dilim dowam tapsa jahan yuzunde – newspaper Turkmen dunyasi, February 2000.


 Dialogue A quarterly journal of Astha Bharati

Astha Bharati