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28.02.2006 | Halya Coynash

NOT FORGOTTEN! More on the Uzbek asylum seekers

   

It is a depressing fact of our lives that stories, however disturbing, have their “sell-by date”, after which the media considers them as  stale as the day before yesterday’s bread. 

It is depressing for those of us who don’t like being manipulated, while highly convenient for politicians, state officials, and others who all too often decide to weather it out, taking no steps whatsoever.

HUMAN LIVES, HOWEVER, ARE NOT LOAVES OF BREAD!

When the risk is high that such silence could lead to still further violations of human rights and to more asylum seekers being sent back to countries where they face terrible danger, any inaction is criminal!

Do not let those responsible for the recent extradition of 10 Uzbek asylum seekers just sit it out, confident that we will forget.

WE HAVE NO RIGHT TO FORGET!

Since the leaders of Ukraine are saying nothing, is it not time for human rights organizations to take the initiative?

They should organize a committee and invite representatives from the UNHCR, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, as well as representatives of the Ukrainian authorities, to investigate the recent deportation and AS SWIFTLY AS POSSIBLE find answers to very specific questions:

How and why did it happen?  Who bears direct responsibility for grave violations of Ukrainian legislation and international commitments?

Why does the UNHCR appear to have not taken action when warned of the imminent deportation?

Were human rights and other civic organizations aware of what was happening, and if so, what actions did they take?

And most importantly:

WHAT IMMEDIATE STEPS ARE NEEDED TO:

Ensure the safety of Uzbek, or any other, asylum seekers in Ukraine?

Create an emergency network of civic organizations so that information can be passed to Ukrainian and international organizations swiftly enough for measures to be taken?

On 28 February the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union plans to send the Appeal from human rights organizations to the government.  The appeal has had no response from those to whom it is addressed, but has, however, been signed with comments by the huge number of Ukrainians who are appalled and ashamed by the injustice which has been perpetrated. 

I believe this would be an appropriate moment for human rights organizations to take on the responsibility the government is shirking, and to make a joint statement announcing the creation of such an enquiry.

 

Halya Coynash

 

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