Probe into Kyrgyzstan violence finds 'serious' crimes

Houses burning in Jalalabad, Kyrgyzstan - 13 June 2010
Image caption The ethnic fighting in southern Kyrgyzstan forced tens of thousands of people to flee

An independent inquiry into ethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan last year says it found serious violations of international law - some of which could amount to crimes against humanity.

The report highlighted weak government structures and the possible complicity of security personnel as factors.

The Kyrgyz government condemned the report's findings as "unacceptable".

The riots last June between ethnic Uzbeks and Kyrgyz left hundreds dead in the south of the country.

The violence, which was mainly centred in the cities of Osh and Jalalabad, followed weeks of turmoil after the ousting of then President Kurmanbek Bakiyev in a mass uprising in April 2010.

'Selectively targeted'

The report from the Kyrgyzstan Inquiry Commission (KIC) said the attacks resulted in "significant loss of life and injury on both sides of the ethnic conflict, with some 470 deaths, and thousands more injured".

The inquiry led by Kimmo Kiljunen, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly's special representative for Central Asia, said "fragile state institutions and the weak rule of law" had fuelled the conflict.

It said the majority - 74% - of those killed were Uzbek and 25% were Kyrgyz.

"The basic responsibility of any government is to protect all its citizens, which obligation was not fulfilled in southern Kyrgyzstan last June," Mr Kiljunen said.

The report, based on 750 interviews with witnesses and analysis of factual evidence, said that historical tensions also played a role.

Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced in the violence, while there was also wide-scale damage to property, most of which was Uzbek-owned, the inquiry said.

The KIC also said that arrests and trials since the event had selectively targeted members of the ethnic Uzbek community.

Fifty-nine Uzbeks and seven Kyrgyz have so far been tried in connection to the violence, the report says.

The report found attackers "in many instances" had seized arms from the security forces with little resistance.

It asked the government to investigate the role of security forces during the period.

"The failure of members of the security forces to protect their equipment raises questions of complicity in the events, either directly or indirectly," the report stated.

'Result of former regimes'

The commission said that certain attacks in Uzbek neighbourhoods in Osh between 11 and 13 June could amount to crimes against humanity if proved in court.

"Furthermore, there were many other criminal acts and serious violations of international human rights law," it stated.

The Kyrgyz authorities, who took over after Kurmanbek Bakiyev was forced from power, had supported the creation of the KIC following the violence.

But the government dismissed the conclusions, saying "circumstances from which the conflict arose were not due to the provisional government and were not from the events of April-May 2010".

"They were as a result of protracted policies implemented by former regimes," a statement said.

It also disagreed that ethnic Uzbeks had suffered disproportionately.

"Kyrgyzstan considers it completely unacceptable that the documents clearly display an overwhelming tendency that only one ethnic group has committed crimes, ignoring the victims and deaths of this very group," the government said.

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