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Wives Of Uzbek Asylum Seekers Urge Kazakh Parties To Help

ALMATY -- The wives of 29 Uzbek asylum seekers currently held in detention in Almaty have appealed to opposition parties and the presidential Nur-Otan party for help for their husbands, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

The Uzbek men have been held at a pretrial detention center of the Committee for National Security (KNB) in Almaty since June. Uzbek authorities have requested their extradition, but the men and their wives are demanding they be granted refugee status in Kazakhstan or elsewhere because they say they will face jail and torture if they return to Uzbekistan.

One of the women, Umida Azimova, told RFE/RL that she and other wives attended the congress of the Kazakh opposition Azat Social Democratic Party on February 12 and again asked for help. She said the wives also appealed to Azat leaders Bolat Abilov and Zharmakhan Tuyaqbai in January.

Azimova said a member of Azat's Political Council, Marzhan Aspadniyarova, told her the party is not able to provide the Uzbek asylum-seekers and their wives with financial or legal support, but will continue to raise their issue.

But Azimova said she and the other Uzbek families need tangible assistance.

On January 29, the Uzbek women asked the leaders of the Algha (Forward) opposition party for help. They say Algha leader Vladimir Kozlov found money to hire lawyers, but no attorney has thus far agreed to take their case and represent them.

Some of the Uzbek wives told RFE/RL that as soon as a lawyer becomes acquainted with the case they refuse to take it because they believe the KNB's involvement precludes any chance of success.

Earlier this month, the Uzbek women tried to seek assistance from the ruling Nur-Otan party, but were not admitted into party headquarters.

The fate of the 29 Uzbek refugees -- all of whom are devout practicing Muslims but reject claims they are violent Islamists -- has not yet been decided.

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