News / Asia

Intimidation of Uzbek Minority Continues in Kyrgyzstan

James Brooke

Two months after inter-ethnic violence ravaged southern Kyrgyzstan, the Kyrgyz dominated police force continues to detain and torture members of the ethnic Uzbek minority, according to a report released Monday by a leading American human rights group.

Human Rights Watch charged that Kyrgyz police have maintained a campaign of intimidation, sweeping through ethnic Uzbek neighborhoods and detaining Uzbek men.  Citing more than 60 cases of torture, the group said that methods included severe beatings, punching, kicking and sometimes suffocation with plastic bags.

Ole Solvang, a Norwegian researcher for the group, said the report was based on 200 interviews conducted through July 25.  He said the campaign of intimidation was still strong when he visited southern Kyrgyzstan last weekend.

"Two days ago, we went to visit this family," he said.  "The grandfather of the family, a 63-year-old man, had been picked up the day before.  He spent several hours in detention at a local police station.  When he came back, he had bruises on his head,  bruises on his neck, he complained that his entire body hurt, and he was bedridden for that night.  When we came to visit the family, he seemed to have a heart attack and was driven straight to the hospital.''

Last month, foreign donor nations rallied to Kyrgyztan's plight, promising to contribute $1.1 billion for rebuilding after the violence.  Most of the money is to be spent before the end of this year to shore up the interim government through elections this October.  Outside interest in Kyrgyzstan is bolstered by the nation's key role in hosting the region's only American flight transit center for the supply of soldiers and airplane fuel for the NATO effort in Afghanistan.

But reports of continued violence against the Uzbek minority may test Western support.  Researchers for the New York-based group reported that families of detainees said that they had to pay bribes ranging from $100 to $10,000 for the release of family members, almost all of them men.  Many ethnic Uzbeks told researchers that they want to leave the country, but face an obstacle course of bribes to obtain the necessary documentation to leave.

The report also cited 'dozens of witnesses" who said that, during the June violence, men in camouflage uniforms driving Kyrgyz military vehicles were often the first to enter Uzbek neighborhoods.  They dismantled protective barricades, opening the neighborhoods to marauding Kyrgyz gangs.  During the violence, about 2,000 houses were burned and 100,000 people took temporary refuge in Uzbekistan.

"Just a couple of days ago, the general prosecutor said that of 243 people who are in prison now, 29 are Kyrgyz," Ole Solvang said.  "And if you look at the scale of the destruction, if you look at the way the events developed that that does not seem to reflect the reality of what happened.  Of course, there were perpetrators on the Uzbek side, and those should be held accountable.  There should be an investigation, but the investigation has to be objective and not discriminate on ethnic grounds.''

The spokesman for Kyrgyzstan's interim government, Farid Niyazov, was not available in Bishkek Monday to comment on the report. However, Sumar Nasiz, spokesman for the Kyrgyz prosecutor general's office, is quoted by AFP as saying that the government is  capable of objectively investigating claims of ethnic violence.  Nasiz acknowledged that offenses had been committed by the Kyrgyz security forces, but he denied the genocide or ethnic cleansing of Uzbeks.

The official death toll is 371. But Roza Otunbayeva, president of Kyrgyzstan's interim government, has also estimated that 2,000 died.

Researcher Solvang said he had a "good" one-hour meeting Monday in Bishkek with Ms. Otunbayeva, a former ambassador to Britain and to the United States.

He said that Kyrgyzstan's president, who came to power after a street revolt here in April, was frank about the limits to her powers in the nation's south.

Recently, officials in southern Kyrgyzstan have spoken out to oppose a plan to station in the south about 50 police advisers working under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Cooperation.  The foreigners are to be posted in police stations with a mandate to observe and train.

"My personal opinion is that if these police officers are going to be sitting in Bishkek, they won't have much of an impact on the situation," said Solvang.

Last week, southern politicians orchestrated demonstrations against the foreign policemen.  With the police group expected to arrive in Kyrgyzstan in coming days, a new challenge looms for the nation's shaky interim government.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama, Modi Break Nuclear Deal Deadlock

Impasse over liability issues had been stalling bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation; deal reached at start of US president's three-day visit to India More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid