Human Rights Issues in Eurasia / Правовые Вопросы В Регионах Евразии

Kyrgyzstan Today / Breach Of Uzbekistan’s Obligations Under International Law

Posted by Info on 02/09/2010

When the violence erupted in Kyrgyzstan in the city Osh on June 10, nearly 100,000 ethnic Uzbeks fled across the officially closed border into Uzbekistan, and 300,000 others escaped to other parts of Kyrgyzstan.

Only after 14 days, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyz officials used fearmongering tactics to convince the refugees to return home.

The Kyrgyz officials warned that if the refugees didn’t vote in a June 27 constitutional referendum, they would be regarded as saboteurs of peace. They also said that people not returning right away could lose their homes and citizenship, and might never be allowed to return.

Despite fears for their safety, almost all crossed back into Kyrgyzstan. In the weeks after the refugees returned to their destroyed neighborhoods, hundreds of ethnic Uzbek families in Osh faced arbitrary arrests, detention, beatings, and torture by Kyrgyz law enforcement and security agencies.

The refugees researcher for Human Rights Watch, Gerry Simpson spoke to more than 100 families, most of whom said they wanted to flee but feared arrest on the way there, being pushed back, or even shot at by Kyrgyz and Uzbek border guards, and being denied help in Uzbekistan.

Kyrgyzstan is preventing its own nationals from crossing the border, in line with Uzbekistan’s official blanket ban on Kyrgyz nationals accessing its territory, a breach of Uzbekistan’s obligations under international law, which prohibits it from closing its borders to people directly fleeing persecution.

On July 22, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe agreed to send “without delay” an international force of 52 police to monitor and advise their Kyrgyz counterparts… but now the Kyrgyz government is refusing so sign the memorandum of understanding required for their deployment.
Opening the borders on both sides, ending the arbitrary arrests, and requests from Uzbekistan to the UN refugee agency and other agencies to help refugees who cross the border would help.

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