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UN Rights Officials Arrive In Kyrgyzstan

Uzbek refugees in Kyrgyzstan (file photo) Prague, 16 June 2005 (RFE/RL) -- A team of UN human rights officials are in Kyrgyzstan today, where they are continuing an investigation into last month's violence in neighboring Uzbekistan.

The team, led by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour, arrived on 15 June for a 10-day visit to interview Uzbeks who fled to Kyrgyzstan after the 13 May violence in the eastern Uzbek city of Andijon.

Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry spokesman Ulan Jusupov told RFE/RL on 15 June that the team will also meet with Kyrgyz government officials in Bishkek and in Jalal-Abad.

"Members of the mission will hold talks with Kyrgyz First Deputy Foreign Minister Kadyrov to discuss prospects of Kyrgyzstan's cooperation with the UN high commissioner for human rights," Jusupov said. "They also plan to go to the Jalal-Abad region, where they will meet with representatives of the department of migration of the [Kyrgyz] Foreign Ministry and possibly with regional leaders."

The Uzbek government has rejected the UN team's request to visit Andijon.

Uzbek authorities say 173 people -- mostly terrorists -- were killed during the riots. But witnesses and human rights organizations say hundreds were killed, including many women and children.

On 15 June, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe criticized the Uzbek government for harassing journalists covering the incident.

(RFE/RL /Reuters/AFP/AP)