Rights group claims Kyrgyzstan armed forces played role in ethnic clash

Rights group claims Kyrgyzstan armed forces played role in ethnic clash

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[JURIST] Kyrgyzstan armed forces played a role in instigating and at times taking part in recent attacks against ethnic Uzbeks, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported [text] Monday. HRW also stated that local law enforcement did not provide adequate protection [press release] to the Uzbek community during the June 2010 ethnic violence [JURIST news archive]. The report documents large-scale “sweep” operations in Uzbek neighborhoods and abusive search and seizure operations that security forces have conducted daily in Osh’s predominantly Uzbek communities. The report called for authorities to investigate the role of the government in the violence and to prosecute those responsible for the clash, which left at least 370 people dead:

It’s clear that the massive ethnic violence posed colossal challenges for Kyrgyz security forces, yet we found that some of the security forces became part of the problem rather than the solution. National and international inquiries need to find out just what the government forces did and whether the authorities did everything they could to protect people. This is crucial both for justice and to learn lessons about how to respond to any new outbreaks. Those responsible for the heinous crimes against both Kyrgyz and Uzbeks during the June violence should be prosecuted irrespective of their ethnicity, title, or rank.

The report was compiled through a combination of testimony from victims, witnesses, human rights experts and government personnel, as well as satellite and photographic images and forensic evidence. According to HRW, the Kyrgyz government has commenced more than 3,500 criminal investigations, but has failed to thoroughly examine the role and responsibility of government forces in the violence. HRW has also called on the international community to ensure the effective and speedy deployment of an international police force and to support efforts for an international investigation.

Last month, UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay [official website] issued a warning [JURIST report] about ongoing human rights violations in Kyrgyzstan following the recent ethnic violence in the country. According to Pillay, security forces in the southern part of the country have been arbitrarily detaining large numbers of Uzbeks in violation of both Kyrgz and international laws. Additionally in July, Kyrgyz interim President Roza Otunbayeva [Telegraph profile] established a commission [JURIST report] to investigate the ethnic violence against the country’s Uzbek population. It will consult with government and international experts and present its findings [AP report] on the causes and repercussions of the violence in September.