Some returning Uzbek refugees say they were pressured into returning quickly to Kyrgyzstan so that they would be eligible to participate in the country’s constitutional referendum
An estimated 80,000 ethnic Uzbeks fled southern Kyrgyzstan during the June 10-14 unrest. Over the past few weeks, however, almost all the refugees returned. As of June 28, 78,675 refugees had gone back to Kyrgyzstan, according to a 24.kg news agency report citing Kyrgyz officials. [For background see EurasiaNet’s archive].
Some 300 returnees are staying near the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border in VLKSM – a village named after a Soviet-era collective farm – in makeshift camps, or with relatives. In VLKSM, Ranohon Abdugafurova, a resident of Mady, a small town east of Osh, asserted that she felt coerced by Uzbek authorities to leave her refugee camp.
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