By RFE/RL's Turkmen Service
Atamurad Saparov was one of the activists trying to deliver a letter at the consulate in Istanbul on August 16. (Source: Turkmen Helsinki Foundation)
Five Turkmen rights activists say they were attacked on the grounds of the Turkmen Consulate in Istanbul as they tried to hand in a letter addressed to President Serdar Berdymukhammedov to protest the human rights situation in the extremely isolated and tightly controlled Central Asian state.
The Turkmen Helsinki Human Rights Foundation (THF) said on August 16 that the activists, two women and three men, accompanied with their Turkish lawyer, Gulden Sonmez, came to the consulate that day and told the security that they had come to deliver a letter from exiled Turkmen rights activists to the president.
After being allowed to enter the consulate grounds, they say they were attacked by six men, identifying one of the attackers as consulate employee Merdan Mustakov.
Two of the activists, Dursoltan Taganova and Atamurat Saparov, who sustained serious head injuries during the confrontation, were taken to the police.
Turkmenistan is one of the most repressive countries in the world. Serdar Berdymukhammedov took over the former Soviet republic in March after his authoritarian father, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, ruled the country with an iron fist from 2006.
Last year, dozens of Turkmen activists residing abroad held protests in Turkey, the United States, and the European Union calling on the international community to pay more attention to the situation regarding human rights and civil freedoms in Turkmenistan.
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