The Bulgaria-based branch of the Turkmen Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights held its first session in Sofia on Tuesday.
The branch comprises 16 people including "nine Turkmens, some of whom live in Turkmenistan. For safety reasons, we cannot disclose their names. They act under pseudonyms," Turkmen Helsinki Foundation Chairman Kadzhigul Bekmetova told the Kommersant newspaper in an interview published on Wednesday.
"Our objective is to protect human rights in Turkmenistan. We will brief the world community on developments there and accumulate facts. The world should know the real picture," Bekmetova noted.
Efforts have been made to compile lists of "Turkmen political prisoners and their relatives who are being severely persecuted," she noted.
"Since Boris Shikhmuradov was thrown in jail, Turkmen authorities have ignored all queries about his health and he has been denied a meeting with his lawyer. We do not know what is happening to him," she said.
"It’s time to drastically change the situation. The state of affairs in Turkmenistan is no secret to anyone. There is only one party there, no other media but the state-owned ones that misrepresent everything, and the law enforcement and judicial agencies that are the worst violators of human rights," she said.
Interfax News Agency August 20, 2003