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Uzbek men being tortured in Kyrgyzstan: UN

July 21, 2010 01:38 IST

United Nations Human Rights chief on Tuesday said she has information that that security forces in southern Kyrgyzstan are using torture against young Uzbek men, who are also being subjected to beatings, arbitrary detentions and forced confessions.

"My staff in Kyrgyzstan have received information suggesting that local authorities are routinely turning a blind eye to illegal arrests, torture and ill-treatment of detainees leading to forced confessions," Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said.

"Large numbers of people most of them young men, and virtually all of them Uzbek have been arbitrarily detained in ways that not only demonstrate flagrant ethnic bias, but also break many of the fundamental tenets of both Kyrgyz and international law," she said.

Pillay's spokesman Rupert Colville told a news briefing in Geneva that the UN had no reason to doubt reports that the torture was not limited to beatings.

"That people have had fingernails removed, sharpened sticks inserted between the fingernails and the flesh, asphyxiation, burning with cigarettes, beatings with rubber batons or rifle butts, punching, kicking etc," he said, according to news agencies on the ground.

"We've also heard accounts of detainees -- but again, we can't absolutely verify this -- being beaten, punched or kicked until they sing the Kyrgyz national anthem perfectly, or speak some sentences in Kyrgyz without any trace of a 'foreign', i.e. Uzbek accent," he added.

Pillay's office received this information six weeks after large-scale ethnic violence erupted between the majority Kyrgyz and minority Uzbek groups in the Osh and Jalabad regions, which left more than 290 people dead and displaced approximately 400,000 people.

The UN refugee agency had last week reported that 750,000 people are still displaced because of the violence and have not been able to return home.

Pillay noted that her office had also been informed of detainees being made to give false confessions and pay bribes for their release. Further, lawyers who were trying to bring attention to the ongoing violations had been threatened, according to the UN News Centre.

There are also reports of doctors not issuing medical certificates to people who have been tortured, and authorities not issuing death certificates for victims who died in the June clashes, which makes it more difficult to family members to claim compensation.

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