Open Letter to President of Kazakshtan about 30 Uzbek refugees

8 September 2010

H.E. President Nursultan Nazarbayev
President of Kazakhstan
Ak-Korda, President Residence

Your Excellency,

I write as the Secretary General of CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, an international alliance of civil society with members and partners in over a hundred countries. Together with the undersigned partners, we are deeply concerned about the imminent decision of the Kazakhstan government on whether to extradite 30 Uzbek refugees to their country of origin. In their country, these individuals have been accused of involvement in terrorist activities, and will be at a serious risk of torture and inhumane treatment upon extradition.

All 30 refugees and asylum seekers are observant Muslims who have in fact peacefully worshipped outside state-approved mosques in Uzbekistan. They all fled Uzbekistan due to fear of persecution for their religious beliefs. We have received reports that 24 of the men were detained during raids in their homes, when, without production of warrants, security forces forced their way in and confiscated personal items including computers. According to local sources, accusations against most of them are based on evidence obtained through torture from convicts. Now, these individuals face extradition from Kazakhstan on charges of membership of illegal or extremist groups, or attempts to overthrow the state. Given Uzbekistan's track record of torture, we have serious reason for concern for the fates of these individuals.

Violations of freedom of religion, association and expression are systematic in Uzbekistan, and we have often witnessed charges of extremism and terrorism being used to suppress independent thought, belief, and expression in the country.

Mr. President, the Republic of Kazakhstan has ratified the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment, the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. As your government has committed to uphold international law over national, we appeal to you to implement obligations under international law and not return these 30 refugees and asylum seekers to Uzbekistan, where they would be at risk of torture or other inhuman treatment.


Ingrid Srinath
Secretary General
CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation


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