Uzbekistan doubts UN interest in fate of Kyrgyz refugees

TASHKENT, August 29 (RIA Novosti, Abu-Ali Nyazmatov) - Prosecutors in the Central Asian republic of Uzbekistan doubt that the UN is really interested in fate of refugees that fled their homeland to neighboring Kyrgyzstan, a statement released by the Uzbek Prosecutor General's Office said Monday.

Citing international media reports, the office quoted United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson Rupert Colville as saying he would want to see evidence of the alleged serious crimes committed by the so-called Uzbek refugees, who fled to Kyrgyzstan after bloody disturbances in the border city of Andijan in May.

"Meanwhile, the facts indicate the UNHCR officials are not particularly interested in finding out the truth," the statement said.

On June 16, representatives of the Uzbek Prosecutor General's Office arrived in the town of Jalalabad in Kyrgyzstan, where UNHCR officials conducted an open international seminar on how the 1951 Geneva Convention on Refugees should be used in the work of prosecutors and human rights activists.

According to the Uzbek prosecutors, the location for the seminar had been chosen on purpose because at the time the refugees from Uzbekistan were interned in a special camp in the Jalalabad region.

"The UNHCR officials refused to meet with Uzbek prosecutors even though the latter had strong evidence against the application of the Geneva Convention with regard to certain individuals in the tent city," the statement continued.

The prosecutors questioned a UNHCR decision to apply the convention to the refugees and only after that ask for evidence while accusing Uzbekistan of a failure to present it.

"We believe the UNHCR spokesperson will find it hard to answer our questions without admitting that the UNHCR prematurely gave refugee status to individuals who have committed serious crimes and are attempting to flee justice," the prosecutors' statement said.

Hundreds of Uzbek nationals crossed the border with Kyrgyzstan after the events in Andijan. Most of them were given refugee status and were sent to third countries, although some individuals were arrested on Uzbek demands.

The Tashkent authorities are insisting on extradition of suspects wanted in connection with the disturbances in Andijan, where crowds seized several government buildings, and claim that there are more criminals among the refugees.

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