Kyrgyzstan said Monday it will repatriate 15 Uzbeks despite objections that it would violate international agreements on the rights of refugees.
Kyrgyzstan on Friday refused to let the 15 fly to join the U.N. flight to Romania of 440 others who had fled to neighboring Kyrgyzstan in May after Uzbek security forces violently suppressed an uprising in the eastern city of Andijan.
``We will insist and suggest that the remaining 15 men be handed over to Uzbekistan,'' said deputy chief prosecutor Nurlan Jeenaliyev.
The General Prosecutor's office said in it had ``reliable evidence that the 15 have been involved in committing serious crimes.'' Uzbekistan has demanded the deportation of the refugees on charges including murder and terrorism.
Eleven of the 15, who are being held in detention in the southern city of Osh, have been declared refugees by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.
The U.S. Embassy urged the Kyrgyz government Monday to take ``immediate steps to protect the rights of the (Uzbek) refugees remaining'' in the country.
``We, together with the UNHCR, are still resolutely in favor of transferring the remaining 15 Uzbek asylum seekers to a third country for further resettlement procedures,'' the statement said.
Despite international calls to respect the refugees' rights, Kyrgyzstan in recent weeks has sent at least 89 Uzbek refugees back home, despite U.N. warnings that they could face prosecution in their homeland.
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