Uzbeks seek protection
17 February 2006 In Kyiv at 10.00 this morning, at 22 Dashevska Street, Uzbek political refugees in Ukraine began an indefinite protest action. It was prompted by the forced deportation of 10 citizens of Uzbekistan seeking political asylum.
The fate of one of the asylum seekers remains shrouded in secrecy. On 7 February 2006 11 people were detained and it is not clear where they were taken, whereas on 14 February the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) stated that 10 people had been deported.
Uzbek political refugees have on many occasions spoken about the danger imminent. In particular, on 6 February 2006, the day before the people were detained in the Crimea, an appeal was addressed to President Yushchenko, the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) and the government in an attempt to draw their attention to the problem of Uzbek political refugees and the imminent danger. However they received no response, and as if in mockery, on the very next day the 11 Uzbeks were detained in the Crimea.
On 13 February 2006 the leaders of the Uzbek political refugees warned the headquarters of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees about the possible deportation and extradition of the 11 detained Uzbeks. However in this case too the UNHCR did not take any measures to avert the tragedy.
9 of the 11 Uzbeks had applied to the UNHCR for international protection against the regime of Uzbekistan. They had special documents confirming that they had applied to an international organization defending the rights of refugees. These documents should have provided protection from the persecution of the authorities. They had also sought help from the Ukrainian authorities by asking for political asylum to escape the repressions of Karimovs regime. And yet the very regime whom they approached for help handed them over to the hands of the executioner Karimov.
This is not the first such attempt to seek revenge on Uzbek members of the opposition in Ukraine as political refugees. In 2001 4 political refugees were deported and have been in prison in Uzbekistan ever since. In August 2005 18 Uzbek political refugees – members of the Byrlyk party – were deported.
It has become clear that Ukraine is not only not in a position to provide social and other assistance to Uzbek refugees, but is placing their safety in jeopardy.
The Ukrainian authorities have today adopted a course towards rapprochement with the Karimov regime. Uzbek members of the opposition are suffering from surveillance and persecution. They have their passports taken away, are fined and prepared for new deportations.
In these cold days of the “Orange Revolution” Uzbek members of the opposition not only followed the events unfolding, but side by side with the people of Ukraine defended the ideals of Maidan. It is depressing that yesterdays leaders of the opposition on Maidan, those who fought for democracy and upheld the ideas of the Orange Revolution, and gained support from the entire democratic world community, are now in power and are not merely failing to support political refugees, democrats, fighting for human rights and liberty, in opposition in Uzbekistan, but are handing them over to their persecutors. . All of this is being done for the sake of economic benefits from cooperation with Uzbekistan which is acknowledged throughout the world to not be a democratic state, while Karimov himself is known to be the tyrant and executioner of his people.
In view of the above,
- we demand that an international commission be created with the participation of recognized international human rights organizations, such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Helsinki Human Rights Group, “Memorial”, as well as representatives of the Society of Uzbek Political Refugees in Ukraine, in order to investigate the forced deportation of people who had applied for protection from the UNHCR.
- The Representation of the UNHCR should take steps to ensure the resettlement of Uzbek political refugees to a third country as soon as possible.
Head of the Association of Uzbek Political Refugees in Ukraine
Tel: +380953947091, D2000@bk.ru
Khadzhimatov, Kh. Y.