Accessibility links

Breaking News

Uzbek Refugees Set Out For Home

A group of Uzbek refugees preparing to leave the United States on August 23 (RFE/RL) August 24, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Forty-one Uzbek refugees who were resettled in the United States following a bloody official crackdown in Andijon have begun their journey home, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reports.

The 41 were among 150 Uzbeks resettled in the United States in 2005, after an uprising and what rights groups and witnesses said was a massacre of hundreds of civilians by security forces in the eastern Uzbek city of Andijon.

One member of the group, Sanjarbek, spoke to RFE/RL's Uzbek Service before boarding a bus from Pittsburgh to New York, where the refugees were expected to begin the flight home.

"Of course, Uzbekistan has guaranteed that there will be no persecution. We have trusted them, we trust them 100 percent," Sanjarbek said. "We are returning with hopes that there will be no persecution and that we will be received very warmly. God willing, today at 11 a.m. a bus will come here and take us to New York. From New York, we will fly to Tashkent and on [August 25] around 6 p.m. we will arrive there. Most of the returnees are from Andijon; there is one person from Tashkent region and two people from Kokand."

Four other Andijon refugees have reportedly refused to return home after relatives warned them they would not be safe in Uzbekistan. All were resettled with the help of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Uzbek authorities have prosecuted more than 100 people for their alleged roles in the unrest, which began with a prison break to free a handful of suspected Islamic radicals and culminated in security troops opening fire on demonstrators in central Andijon.

Officials claim fewer than 200 people were killed, including troops, while rights groups and witnesses insist the death toll among peaceful protesters was far higher than that figure.

Rights groups accuse the authorities of harassment and persecution of individuals who they suspect were involved or sympathize with the organizers.

Aftermath Of Andijon

Aftermath Of Andijon

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


An annotated timeline of the Andijon events and their repercussions.