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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05ALMATY2503
2005-07-06 12:08:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
US Office Almaty
Cable title:  

DETAINED UZBEK REFUGEE FACING DEPORTATION

Tags:   PGOV  PREL  KDEM  PHUM  PINR  SMIG  IO  UZ  KZ  POLITICAL 
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						UNCLAS  ALMATY 002503 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EUR/CACEN (J. MUDGE), DRL/PHD (P. DAVIS, C. KUCHTA-
HELBLING), AND PRM/ECA (E. TOURE, T. TARGOS)
TBILISI FOR REFCOORD SARGE CHEEVER

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM PHUM PINR SMIG IO UZ KZ POLITICAL
SUBJECT: DETAINED UZBEK REFUGEE FACING DEPORTATION

UNCLAS ALMATY 002503

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EUR/CACEN (J. MUDGE), DRL/PHD (P. DAVIS, C. KUCHTA-
HELBLING), AND PRM/ECA (E. TOURE, T. TARGOS)
TBILISI FOR REFCOORD SARGE CHEEVER

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM PHUM PINR SMIG IO UZ KZ POLITICAL
SUBJECT: DETAINED UZBEK REFUGEE FACING DEPORTATION


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Concerned about governmental retaliation
for his role in reporting on the recent events in Andijon,
Uzbek human rights observer Lutfullo Shamsudinov fled with
his family to Kazakhstan in late May. UNHCR formally
determined on June 24 that Shamsudinov was a bona fide
refugee, notified the GOK of its determination, and began
resettlement proceedings. Migration Police in Almaty,
however, detained the entire family on July 4 pursuant to a
law enforcement request from the GOU. Although his family
was later released, Shamsudinov remains in detention. UNHCR
and Embassy have pressed for Shamsudinov's release, but some
local authorities are maintaining that he must be returned
to Uzbekistan to face criminal charges. END SUMMARY.

BACKGROUND AND TIMELINE
--------------

2. (SBU) Lutfullo Shamsudinov, a well-known Uzbek human
rights observer who worked in the NGO community and as a
contributor for foreign press agencies, fled Uzbekistan and
sought refuge in Kazakhstan following the events in Andijon
and contacted the UNHCR office in Almaty to request
assistance. Through a local human rights NGO, Shamsudinov
received a small subsistence grant from International League
for Human Rights, which enabled him to obtain temporary
lodging for his family of seven. On June 24, Shamsudinov
received a UNHCR refugee certificate indicating that he had
been determined to be a refugee under the UNHCR mandate and
that he and his family were awaiting resettlement.


3. (SBU) Prior to UNHCR's determination, Shamsudinov
reached out to press and international contacts to publicize
his plight and request assistance. Shamsudinov contacted
the Embassy and expressed fear that he and/or his family
would be kidnapped by the Uzbek government and forcibly
returned to Uzbekistan. UNHCR, Post and other international

observers remained in close contact to monitor the
situation. On July 4, Migration Police in Almaty detained
the family pursuant to a law enforcement bulletin issued by
the GOU. Although Shamsudinov's family was released within
hours, Shamsudinov remains in custody, and UNHCR has had
little success in gaining access to him, much less getting
him released.

BACK AND FORTH WITH THE GOK
--------------

4. (SBU) UNHCR Almaty-based protection officer Narasima Rao
told Emboff on July 6 that UNHCR is facing an increasingly
hardened front from GOK authorities on Shamsudinov. The
state prosecutor handling the case refused Rao's July 5
request for access to Shamsudinov, calling the Uzbek a
"terrorist". Rao characterized the prosecutor's tone as
"very aggressive." The prosecutor indicated, however, that
if the MFA gave the green light, he would release
Shamsudinov.


5. (SBU) MFA, however, has proved difficult to pin down. On
July 6, UNHCR was unable to reach Deputy Foreign Minister
Shakirov, with whom the UNHCR had a hitherto good working
relationship. Both Rao and UNHCR Astana field officer
Branislav Kojic reported feeling stonewalled by working
level contacts, some of whom blamed lack of availability on
the July 5-6 Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit
in Astana. Interventions by UNHCR in Geneva also yielded
little progress. At a July 5 meeting with the UNHCR head for
Central Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, the Kazakhstani
Head of the Permanent Mission to the UN in Geneva said that
while Kazakhstan would not deport refugees, authorities were
free to send "terrorists" back at the request of neighboring
countries.


6. (SBU) Rao was surprised at Kazakhstan's detention of
Shamsudinov. He said that at a June 29 meeting with Cesare
Dubon, the UNHCR chief for Central Asia, DFM Shakirov
reacted positively, if guardedly, to a suggestion that the
GOK play a leading role in the refugee crisis, including
setting up a "humanitarian corridor". Although the GOK has
been reluctant to pass a Refugee Law to formalize
commitments to international standards of protection, the
country does not have a history of forcibly deporting
refugees back to the country they fled.


7. (SBU) Rao asserted that the next twenty-four to forty
eight hours are crucial for Shamsudinov. If not released in
that time, he believes Shamsudinov would most likely be
deported back to Uzbekistan. UNHCR is hoping that the GOK
will release Shamsudinov on the condition that he leaves the
country almost immediately thereafter.

POST ACTION
--------------


8. (SBU)Since Shamsudinov contacted us on the night of his
detention, July 4th, we have been in closely monitoring the
situation. EmbOffs in Almaty and Astana have been
coordinating with their UNHCR counterparts, as well as
contacts at IOM, OSCE, local NGOs, and other Embassies. On
June 30, Astana Principal Officer demarched MFA's Director
for Economic and Humanitarian Cooperation Akan Rakhmetulin,
to express strong USG support for UNHCR's request that
Kazakhstan accept refugees from neighboring countries
pursuant to UNHCR resettlement proceedings. Based on
concerns about the Shamsudinov case, Astana PO delivered a
non-paper on July 5 to MFA Chief of Department of Americas
and Europe Jandos Asanov, requesting that the GOK extend all
appropriate rights and protections to Shamsudinov based on
his formal refugee status. MFA remained noncommittal during
both exchanges, although Asanov acknowledged the serious
nature of Shamsudinov's case.


9. (SBU) Ambassador's attempt to reach FM Tokayev were
rebuffed on July 5th and 6th on grounds that the Minister
was busy with the President and could not speak to the
Ambassador by telephone. The Ambassador did manage to reach
Presidential Assistant Karim Masimov who promised to look
into the matter and get back to him. Questions were also
raised at the Ambassador's regularly scheduled press
conference earlier on July 6th, allowing him to express
publicly our concern and make clear the GOK's obligation not
to return Shamsudinov to Uzbekistan.

COMMENT
--------------


10. (SBU) Karimov's presence is Astana for the SCO meeting
may have played a role in the decision to detain
Shamsudinov. Privately, Kazakhstani officials have been
scathing about his rule in Uzbekistan. However, President
Nazarbayev's approving comments on the eve of the SCO about
the approach the GOU took in Andijon signaled a far more
accommodating line towards Karimov. Shamsudinov may be an
unfortunate victim of this approach unless the GOK can be
convinced that the damage to their international reputation,
and interests ranging from U.S. certification to their
campaign for the OSCE Chairmanship-in-office, are a price
too high to pay for approving Karimov.


11. (U) Minimize for Dushanbe considered.

ORDWAY


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