Please help a group of refugees in need!
We have received an urgent plea for help from colleagues in the French-based organization “Human Rights in Central Asia”. Their representatives are presently in Turkey where the Turkish Parliaments Human Rights Committee has held hearings over the expulsion of 27 Uzbek refugees from Turkey to Iran. Deputies concerned over the expulsion have initiated the formation of a committee made up of deputies and human rights groups. Support from people in Ukraine, Russia, Central Asia and Europe will assist them in making the case for helping the refugees more convincing.
If you agree with the letter below, please endorse it by sending your full name, position and organization or occupation to
To the President of Turkey Abdullah Gül
and the Turkish Parliament
Appeal regarding 27 Uzbek refugees twice expelled from Turkey
5 November 2008
We are deeply concerned that on 11 October 2008 27 UNHCR mandate refugees, among them 15 children, including three infants, and six women, one pregnant, were expelled from Turkey.
These people who arrived in Turkey in September 2007 from Iran are from the Fergana Valley in Uzbekistan. They left their country in the 1990s fleeing from repression which they authorities meted out to worshippers at the mosque of one of the most popular Imams in Uzbekistan – Abbuvali-kori Mirzaev. These refugees did not know of the existence of an institution for international protection. Having seen a programme on state television in Uzbekistan about a camp for “religious refugees” in Tajikistan they set off there, not realizing that they had ended up with Islamists. Their wanderings, beginning in Tajikistan, via Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran, brought them to Turkey. They hoped that here there children could finally go to school and receive medical care.
The refugees conscientiously observed Turkish migration legislation. Nonetheless, on 12 September 2008 they were all taken by police car beyond the Turkish border into Iran where they found themselves under the control of bandits demanding ransom and threatening reprisals if they didnt get it.
The refugees were released after a week and they returned to the city of Van. During the night of 11 October 2008 the police literally pulled the sleeping people from their beds and again took them to Iran. Two days later they managed to inform international human rights organizations that they were in a mountain region near the border that they had no food or warm clothes, but that they were frightened to go to the Iranian refugee camp in the city of Aron where they had been until they moved to Turkey. Since then there has been no contact with them.
We are seriously anxious over their fate and believe that in this situation only the assistance of the Turkish government and deputies of the Turkish parliament can help save this group of people who trusted their fate to international mechanisms for the protection of refugees.
We hope that you can give this matter your attention.
Edgor Obid, poet, Austria
Nadezhda Atayeva, President of the Association “Human Rights in Central Asia”. (France)
Tamara Chikunova, Head of the Human Rights Organization “Mothers against the Death Penalty and Torture”, Uzbekistan
Sergei Kovalev, Chair of the Board of the Sakharov Foundation, and of Russian “Memorial”, President of the Human Rights Institute in Moscow
Valentin Gefter, Director of the Human Rights Institute in Moscow
Yelena Ryabinina, Head of the Assistance Programme for Political Refugees from Central Asia, Civic Assistance Committee