Uzbek massacre refugees secretly returned to face detention or death in Uzbekistan
MAY 13 CAMPAIGN: «For freedom, human rights and justice in Uzbekistan»
10 June 2005
TO: ORGANISATION FOR SECURITY
AND COOPERATION IN EUROPE (OSCE)
GOVERNMENT OF KYRGYZ REPUBLIC
EMBASSY OF THE UNITED KINGDOM TO UZBEKISTAN
STATEMENT OF THE 13 MAY CAMPAIGN FOR FREEDOM, HUMAN RIGHTS, RESPECT AND JUSTICE IN UZBEKISTAN
We are deeply concerned about the fate of almost five hundred Uzbek refugees in Kyrgyzstan, who fled from Uzbekistan following the bloody events in Andijan last months. There are reports that the refugees are being deported from Kyrgyzstan gradually and quietly.
In a statement today, UNHCR -- which oversees the refugee camp in Kyrgyzstan -- has said it was shocked to discover that four of the refugees had been returned against their will on Thursday. The organisation says sending the four home might have been a breach of international law. UNHCR has urged Kyrgyzstan to cease deportations until at least the status of the refugees is determined.
Twelve other refugees are being held separately, in detention, and there are fears that they could also be deported.
UNHCR reports that the refugees are coming under increased pressure to return home. Moreover, journalists, who visited the refugee camp recently, allege that in some cases Kyrgyz border troops gave away refugees to Uzbek security forces in exchange for a bribe.
The refugees are left with very little legal protection and are subject to constant visits to their camps by Uzbek security forces. They themselves have said that they were sure they would be imprisoned or even executed if they were sent back.
We urge the government of Kyrgyzstan not to send the refugees back and not to give in to the pressure from Uzbekistan. It is clear that if the refugees are deported, they will be punished.
We call upon OSCE to dispatch a monitoring group to the refugee camp and to follow up the situation closely.
Several hundred refugees fled Andijan after a bloody crackdown on protesters last month, in which hundreds of people are believed to have been killed by Uzbek security forces. The Uzbek government said 173 people died, most of them Islamic militants - a claim which has been disputed by eyewitnesses. There have been calls for an international inquiry into what happened, but Uzbek President Islam Karimov has insisted that the matter will be handled internally.
We’re a London-based initiative advocacy group called ‘May 13 Campaign: for Freedom, Human Rights Respect and Justice in Uzbekistan’ and created by a number of Uzbek and British citizens on 8 June, 2005 in response to the events in Andijan on 13-15 may 2005.
The May 13 Campaign is a voluntary association of concerned individuals which is neither affiliated with nor linked to any religious or political group either in Uzbekistan or elsewhere.For media inquiries contact: David Hothersall. Tel. 020 7638 3435; email: email@example.com