U.N. rights mission to probe Uzbek violence

GENEVA, June 14 (Reuters) - A U.N. human rights mission arrived in Kyrgyzstan on Tuesday to investigate the killing of up to 800 people in Andijan in neighbouring Uzbekistan in May.

The team of senior officials from the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, will stay for some 10 days to interview eyewitnesses and others with first-hand information, a statement said.

But the team will not go to Uzbekistan because President Islam Karimov has rejected a call by Arbour, the European Union and others for an independent international inquiry, her spokesman, Jose Luis Diaz, said.

"The team will ... gain an overview into the circumstances of the incidents which resulted in the death of between 173 people, according to the Uzbek authorities, and up to 800 people, according to other sources," the statement said.

Tashkent has said those killed were mostly "bandits" or "terrorists." Witnesses say several hundred people, mostly civilians were killed when troops moved to end a protest at what many people saw as an unfair trial of local businessmen.

The statement expressed concern at the deteriorating security situation of some 400 Uzbek asylum-seekers in a camp near the Kyrgyz city of Jalalabad.

The camp was raided by a group of men on Tuesday and the asylum-seekers threatened with reprisals if they did not return home within three days, it said.

"The asylum-seekers are in need of immediate protection and of guarantees that they will not be sent back prior to a full determination of their refugee status," the statement said.


Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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