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 US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid