Investigate Kyrgyzstan Violence

June 19, 2010

Yesterday, Kyrgyzstan’s interim President, Roza Otunbayeva, visited Osh, the site of violence that began the 10 June 2010, killing hundreds and displacing nearly 400,000.  The violence erupted between ethnic Uzbeks and Kyrgyzs in the south of the country and lasted for six days, spreading to other cities in the southern region. Although the reported number of deaths was approximately 200, Otunbayeva stated that the death toll is actually much higher, closer to 2,000. Also yesterday, the Holocaust Museum’s Bridget Conley-Zilkic made the case that the racial violence could have been prevented.

At this time, the UN estimates that 1 million people may be in need of humanitarian aid and the organization is mobilizing its resources to provide food and medical care to the refugees in Uzbekistan as well as the internally displaced persons within Kyrgyzstan.

However, in addition to the humanitarian crisis, severe human rights violations must also be addressed. At this time, allegations are mounting that security forces may have colluded in some  human rights violations.

In order to uncover the truth, it is imperative to conduct an international, independent and impartial investigation into the violent events of the past days to ensure that both armed individuals and security forces are held accountable for human rights abuses. We believe that only an international investigation is likely to be considered unbiased and credible by all affected groups and therefore is key to restoring sustainable peace and the rule of law.

While the Kyrgyzstani government reports that security forces have regained control of the situation in the cities of Osh, Jalal-Abad and surrounding towns and villages, and are concentrating their efforts on restoring order and apprehending those responsible for the violence, the security situation in the south of Kyrgyzstan remains tense and is reported to hinder distribution of humanitarian aid. The Kyrgyzstani interim government should immediately react to allegations of collusion of security forces and to send a clear signal that any human rights violations will be prosecuted.

To protect human rights defenders in southern Kyrgyzstan, who attempt to document the recent violence, please take a look at our Urgent Action (pdf).