As southern Kyrgyzstan marks the second anniversary of ethnic clashes between its Kyrgyz and Uzbek communities, local and international rights activists are concerned about wounds that continue to fester, and what they describe as ongoing discrimination against the Uzbek minority.
Amnesty International released a report June 8 that it says “outlines the failure of the Kyrgyzstani authorities to fairly and effectively investigate the June 2010 violence,” which killed hundreds and displaced hundreds of thousands.
“There are wounds that time will not heal. Truth, accountability and justice are the only tools that will mend the bridges between the two ethnic communities,” Maisy Weicherding of Amnesty said in a statement.
As Amnesty pointed out, during the June 10-14 violence in 2010, both the Kyrgyz and Uzbek communities were involved in “killings, looting and rampaging” in and around Osh, but most injuries and deaths were suffered by ethnic Uzbeks.
An internationally led inquiry found that 470 people were killed, 74 percent of whom were Uzbeks. Nevertheless, the inquiry said ethnic Uzbeks were accused of murder over 30 times more often than members of the Kyrgyz community. Bishkek subsequently rejected the findings of that inquiry.
Kyrgyz law-enforcement bodies released the findings of their own new investigation into the violence on June 7, Central Asia Online reports: It said that the death toll was 442, of whom 295 were ethnic Uzbeks, and that of the 545 people prosecuted over the violence, 400 were ethnic Uzbeks.
In its report Amnesty accuses Bishkek of failing to investigate allegations of “collusion or complicity of security forces” in human rights violations in 2010.
Rights activists in Kyrgyzstan have also raised the alarm about the lack of reconciliation between the Kyrgyz and Uzbek communities two years after the clashes.
During a meeting with ethnic minorities on June 8, Kyrgyzstan’s human rights ombudsman Tursunbek Akun expressed his dismay at what he described as discrimination faced by Uzbeks in southern Kyrgyzstan, the 24.kg news agency reported.
The Uzbek community “suffers from lawlessness from judicial authorities and law enforcement agencies,” he said, noting that they face mistreatment and a “biased attitude” from the judiciary.
The ombudsman called for a council to be set up to protect the rights of Kyrgyzstan’s minorities.
However, in the current political environment, his call is unlikely to be heeded. Although President Almazbek Atambayev has attacked politicians who play “dangerous games” by inciting ethnic enmity, nationalist rhetoric remains commonplace in Kyrgyzstan’s parliament and in the media.
UPDATE: This blog was amended on June 10 to include the report by Kyrgyz law enforcement bodies.