Asylum-seekers and refugees from Uzbekistan were at risk of detention and forcible return. At least eight men were forcibly returned to Uzbekistan. An opposition party was closed down and some members briefly detained. A jailed opposition leader was recommended for early release.


The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said the December 2005 presidential election, which saw incumbent President Nursultan Nazarbaev win over 90 per cent of the votes, fell far short of OSCE and Council of Europe standards. The Constitutional Council had brought forward the election date by a year in August, and opposition parties and independent news media complained of harassment and intimidation by the authorities.

Political imprisonment

  • In January a court ordered the closure of the opposition Democratic Choice of Kazakstan (DVK) party, in response to an application by the Prosecutor General's office which accused it of "inciting social tension" and "extremism". Police reportedly broke up an unauthorized demonstration in Almaty organized by the DVK and detained eight DVK members, reportedly for using the slogan "Terror of the state against its citizens". Seven were subsequently brought before a court.
  • In November the Ministry of Justice recommended the early release of Galimzhan Zhakianov, a leading DVK member. On 14 December, a court decided to grant him early release. He had been sentenced to seven years' imprisonment in 2002 for "abuse of office" and financial crimes, but the real reason for his imprisonment appeared to be his peaceful opposition activities.

Fear of forcible return

Refugees from Uzbekistan were not effectively protected and risked being forcibly returned to Uzbekistan and subjected to serious human rights violations there. Some had fled to Kazakstan after the security forces fired indiscriminately on a crowd in Andizhan, Uzbekistan, on 13 May, killing hundreds of people. Others were suspected members of banned Islamic parties or movements. The Uzbekistani authorities have frequently targeted suspected sympathizers of such organizations or independent Muslims in the name of national security.

  • Lutfullo Shamsuddinov, a prominent human rights defender, fled Uzbekistan with his wife and five children. His eyewitness testimony of the events in Andizhan, quoted by the international media, differed from the official account. Although recognized as a refugee by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on 27 May, he was arrested by the Kazakstani police on 4 July at the request of the Uzbekistani authorities, who said that he faced charges of "terrorism", a capital offence, and spreading information to cause panic. Despite pressure from Uzbekistan, the Kazakstani authorities eventually handed him over to UNHCR, which flew him and his family to another country.
  • On 24 and 27 November, 10 Uzbekistani nationals were allegedly detained by the National Security Committee (KNB), the security services, and held incommunicado in the southern city of Shymkent. They were reportedly wanted for "participation in a banned religious organization" and "attempting to overthrow the constitutional order". According to reports, at least eight of them were forcibly returned to Uzbekistan early in the morning of 29 November. One man escaped into hiding in Kazakstan, and the whereabouts of another were unclear. Of the eight deportees, two were given access to lawyers and their place of detention in Uzbekistan was known, but the location of the remaining six was still unclear at the end of 2005. Reportedly, four of the eight men were holding asylum-seeker certificates issued by the UNHCR Office in Kazakstan.

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