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Uzbekistan Says Andijon Refugees Returning Voluntarily

Uzbek soldiers on the streets of Andijon a day after the bloodshed (epa) TASHKENT, July 19, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Uzbekistan's Foreign Ministry says that 12 Andijon refugees who have returned to the country in recent days did so voluntarily.

The refugees were given asylum in the United States through the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR. They were helped to return by the Uzbek Embassy in the United States.

The 12 were among more than 400 people who fled the violence in the eastern Uzbek city in May 2005.

In an interview with RFE/RL's Uzbek Service, a UNHCR spokesman, Andrej Mahecic, says it is the refugees' right to return, if they are doing so voluntarily.

But he noted that the same security concerns that prompted the UNHCR to evacuate the Uzbek citizens to third countries in the first place are still present in Uzbekistan.

Uzbekistan's Foreign Ministry says the 12 refugees who have returned did so after it was established that they did not play any part in the violence in Andijon in May 2005.

Andijon Anniversary Conference

Andijon Anniversary Conference

Violence in Andijon, Uzbekistan, on May 14, 2005 (epa)

TALKING ABOUT ANDIJON: On May 9, 2006, RFE/RL, the National Endowment for Democracy, and U.S.-based human rights organizations cohosted a conference on the May 2005 events in Andijon and their aftermath in Uzbekistan and throughout the region. The first panel featured Andijon eyewitness GALIMA BUKHARBAEVA, National Endowment for Democracy Fellow NOZIMA KAMALOVA, RFE/RL Central Asia analyst DANIEL KIMMAGE, and others. The second panel featured presentations by U.S. Senator JOHN MCCAIN and U.S. Congressman CHRISTOPHER SMITH, who used the forum to announce they had introduced legislation calling for sanctions and other measures against the government of President Islam Karimov.


Listen to the Andijon conference.
Part One (70 minutes):
Real Audio Windows Media
Part Two (60 minutes):
Real Audio Windows Media
The Uzbek government's response:
Real Audio Windows Media

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.