Helsinki Watch, the New York-based human rights group, said in a report released Friday that the Bulgarian government has killed hundreds of Moslem Turks who refused to change their names and give up their religion.
The report suggests that the government was alarmed that the birth rate among Moslem Turks would soon surpass that of other Bulgarians and that it feared a possible Moslem fundamentalist influence from neighboring Turkey. The report said there are "reports that the authorities attempted to force ethnic Turks to give up Islamic practices and the Turkish language and to discourage Turkish customs and traditions."
The report says Bulgaria has denied similar allegations before the United Nations. The government has said Turks adopted Slavic names voluntarily.
The report, based on visits to Bulgaria and interviews with relatives of Moslem Turks living in Turkey, estimates that between 300 and 1,500 Turks have been killed since the end of 1984. Turks, the largest minority group in Bulgaria, are estimated to number 900,000.
Since the end of 1984, the report noted, it has been forbidden to speak and publish in Turkish. Turks are not allowed to wear traditional outfits. The Moslem holy book, the Koran, is not printed in Bulgaria, and may not be imported.