HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
REITERATES CALL FOR INTERNATIONAL
PROBE OF ANDIJAN EVENTS
12 July 2005
Consistent, credible eyewitness testimony strongly suggests that military and security forces committed grave human rights violations, mostly of the right to life, last May in Andijan, Uzbekistan, a report from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights concludes as it reiterates a call for an independent international probe.
The report, the result of an OHCHR mission to neighbouring Kyrgyzstan in mid-June, says it is not excluded, as described by eyewitnesses interviewed, that the Andijan incidents amounted to a “mass killing”.
The report goes on to say that significantly diverging casualty figures – the Government claims fewer than 200 people were killed, while other sources put the death toll at hundreds more – and unanswered questions about the seizure of a regional administrative building, the overrunning of a prison and the subsequent release of prisoners require clarification through comprehensive investigation.
High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour originally called for an independent investigation into the Andijan events on 18 May. After reviewing the findings of the OHCHR mission, which interviewed Uzbek asylum-seekers who had fled Andijan and which received other information, the High Commissioner wrote to President Islam Karimov on 23 June 2005, reiterating her call. No response has been received thus far.
In addition to reaffirming the need for a properly funded and resourced international commission of inquiry, the report states, among other things, that:
· there is an urgent need to trace those who have disappeared. Efforts at family reunification are also necessary for those who have survived.
· the Government of Uzbekistan should ensure adequate compensation for the families of the victims;
· there is an urgent need for a stay of deportation of the Uzbek asylum-seekers and eyewitnesses of the Andijan events who would face the risk of torture if returned to Uzbekistan. They should be relocated urgently to a third country, under the guidance of UNHCR;
· the international community must be granted access to the four asylum seekers who were deported from Kyrgyzstan to Uzbekistan;
· in light of the consistent pattern of human rights violations in Uzbekistan reflected in the findings of United Nations human rights treaty bodies and the special procedures of the Commission on Human Rights, the international community may also consider the need for the establishment of a public mechanism of scrutiny of the situation in Uzbekistan.