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Kyrgyzstan to consult UN and Uzbekistan over Uzbek refugees

18:27 12/09/2005
MOSCOW, September 12 (RIA Novosti) - The fate of 15 Uzbek refugees in Kyrgyzstan will be decided trilaterally by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the Kyrgyz and Uzbek General Prosecutor's Offices, Kyrgyz Prime Minister Felix Kulov said Monday.

"The General Prosecutor's Office is examining the conclusions of each organization," the Kyrgyz news agency Kabar quoted Kulov as saying.

During a UN Security Council meeting in August, Kyrgyz Chief Prosecutor Azimbek Beknazarov called for a political solution, suggesting that Kyrgyzstan return some of the Uzbek refugees who are facing more serious charges. If proven innocent, the 15 Uzbek citizens, who are being held in a pre-trial detention center in Osh, will be granted refugee status by the Kyrgyz General Prosecutor's Office.

The Kyrgyz General Prosecutor's Office is examining documents sent by Uzbek law-enforcement agencies that accuse the detainees of acts of terrorism.

Beknazarov said, "The granting of refugee status to these individuals by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees only gives them the right to receive help and patronage from international and non-governmental organizations."

At the end of August, the Uzbek refugees met with Kyrgyz Ombudsman Tursunbay Bakir Uulu and asked to be sent to any country other than Uzbekistan.

Kabar reported that "the Uzbek citizens in the Osh pre-trial detention center also face charges over their links to the religious extremist group Akramia and its leader Akram Yuldashev."

Over 500 refugees fled to Kyrgyzstan following the protests in Andijan (Uzbekistan) on May 13. On that day, an armed group released hundreds of prisoners, some of whom were convicted of being involved in terrorist groups. The Uzbek government claims that Islamic militants were responsible for the ensuing violence, during which, according to official data, 173 people died, including 36 Uzbek soldiers.

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