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HRW Slams Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan For Impeding Asylum Seekers

Ethnic Uzbeks returning from Uzbekistan across the Kyrgyz border outside Osh on June 23.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan of preventing ethnic Uzbek refugees from seeking asylum from arrests and alleged torture at the hands of Kyrgyz police.

HRW's Gerry Simpson said the many asylum seekers told the rights group they would seek shelter in Uzbekistan if the border was open.

Simpson was speaking from the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh, where deadly ethnic clashes erupted last month.

HRW said Uzbek and Kyrgyz officials had used "fearmongering tactics" to force the refugees' swift return and were now impeding people from fleeing renewed violence.

It said Kyrgyz official had threatened to strip refugees of their property and citizenship if they failed to return and vote in a national referendum on June 27.

Earlier today, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said she had information that Kyrgyz security forces committed abuses such as torture and arbitrary detention in southern Kyrgyzstan.

compiled from agency reports