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UNHCR 'Saddened' By Kyrgyz Decision On Andijon Refugee

(RFE/RL) PRAGUE, June 14, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said it is "extremely saddened" by Kyrgyzstan's decision to not accept as a refugee an Uzbek citizen who is wanted in his home country for his alleged involvement in last year's Andijon unrest.

The Kyrgyz Supreme Court on June 13 ruled against granting refugee status to Rasuljon Pirmatov. The court had already issued similar verdicts with respect to three other Uzbek nationals.

All four fled Uzbekistan following the bloody May 2005 military crackdown in Andijon and sought shelter in neighboring Kyrgyzstan. Although they have been recognized as refugees by the UNHCR, they were arrested and jailed in the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh pending trial.

UNHCR spokeswoman Astrid van Genderen Stort told RFE/RL's Uzbek Service from Geneva that the UN agency has found resettlement countries for all four prisoners and is calling upon the Kyrgyz authorities to not deport them to Uzbekistan.

"UNHCR has continued to appeal to the Kyrgyz authorities not to deport these four," she said. "We've said this on many, many, many different occasions, and we've offered alternative solutions to the Kyrgyz government. In fact, all four people, all four refugees who are now in prison in Osh, have been accepted by other countries in Europe for resettlement, and we stand ready to take over these refugees and transfer them to other countries."

Also today, the Vienna-based International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights issued a statement, urging the Kyrgyz government to not violate the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and not send Pirmatov back to Uzbekistan.

The other three Uzbek refugees in Kyrgyz custody are Jakhongir Maksudov, Odiljan Rakhimov, and Yaqub Toshboev. A fifth Andijon resident, Fayoz Tojikhalilov, is also in jail in Osh pending trial.

Andijon Refugees

Andijon Refugees

Uzbek refugees in Kyrgyzstan on May 19, 2005 (epa)

NO PLACE TO GO: More than 400 Uzbeks who fled in panic in the hours and days after troops opened fire on demonstrators in Andijon one year ago have been granted political asylum outside Central Asia. In limbo for weeks in Kyrgyzstan as they and the world tried to come to grips with the bloody events of May 12 and 13, they feared for their lives and the lives of family members as the official crackdown continued.... (more)


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Refugees Want To Return Only If Regime Changes

THE COMPLETE STORY: A dedicated webpage bringing together all of RFE/RL's coverage of the events in Andijon, Uzbekistan, in May 2005 and their continuing repercussions.


For an annotated timeline of the Andijon events and their repercussions, click here.

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