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UNHCR Urges Kyrgyzstan Not To Deport Uzbeks

Many people who were in the city of Andijon during the violence have been tried and sentenced to prison in what activists call "show trials" (file photo) (RFE/RL) 17 February 2006 (RFE/RL) -- The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has called on authorities in Kyrgyzstan not to extradite four Uzbek refugees who fled violence in eastern Uzbekistan last May, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported.

The UNHCR said it was concerned about the fate of the four, two of whom were denied asylum yesterday by Kyrgyzstan's Supreme Court and are wanted by authorities in Uzbekistan.

UNHCR spokeswoman Astrid van Genderen Stort in Geneva told RFE/RL that although Kyrgyzstan has a right to issue judicial rulings, it should consider the possible fate that awaits the deported detainees.

"We are appealing to the Kyrgyz authorities not to extradite these [Uzbek refugees]. Obviously, the Kyrgyz have their own court rulings and they have the right to do so, but we hope that these people will not be returned. We are at the same time appealing also to the Uzbeks that the people will be treated according to basic international standards, those that have been returned."

Hundreds of people fled the eastern Uzbek city of Andijon last May after police and soldiers opened fire on anti-government demonstrators.

Kyrgyzstan allowed the UN to fly more than 400 of the refugees to countries in Europe last summer.

Non-governmental organizations in Kyrgyzstan are calling on the government to send the four Uzbek refugees to a third country.

(with additional material from AP)

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