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Prosecutor Says Kyrgyzstan To Deport 29 Uzbeks

Uzbek refugees in Kyrgyzstan 23 June 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Kyrgyz Prosecutor-General Azimbek Beknazarov says Kyrgyz authorities plan to hand 29 refugees who fled a government crackdown in Uzbekistan back to the neighboring country.

The move ignores United Nations calls to halt forced returns.

Beknazarov said the 29 refugees were criminals who broke out of jail last month during protests in the eastern Uzbek city of Andijon.

"As soon as we finalize the additional checking [they will be sent back]. There is no need to keep these people here because Akramists [members of the banned Islamist group Akramiya] could attack the Osh temporary detention center as they did in Andijon because these are armed criminals," Beknazarov said.

About 500 Uzbek residents crossed into Kyrgyzstan on 14 May after security forces opened fire on protesters in Andijon. Uzbek authorities say 176 people were killed in the police action. Human rights groups say hundreds more may have been killed.

Kyrgyzstan has already sent back four asylum seekers.

The UN has urged the Kyrgyz government to halt forced returns and abide by its international obligations. The UN fears Uzbek asylum seekers could be mistreated if sent back home to Uzbekistan.

International human rights groups have also called on Kyrgyz authorities not to send back Uzbek refugees.

(RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service/AP/Reuters)

For more on the violence in and around Andijon in mid-May, see RFE/RL's dedicated webpage: Unrest in Uzbekistan

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