Kyrgyzstan – Ethnic Cleansing

June 18, 2010

By Padmini Arhant

The Central Asian nation, Kyrgyzstan bordering Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and China is home to 5.2 million ethnically diverse population with the Kyrgyz being the majority followed by the Uzbeks and other distinct groups in the society.

Recent ethnic violence where an estimated 400,000 is reportedly displaced having fled their homes with the Uzbek men, women and children targeted primarily between the two communities in the clashes that erupted from a political unrest back in April 2010.

Reflecting on the events then, the economic crisis and the energy prices combined with political corruption contributed to the massive public protest initially centered at the nation’s capital, Bishkek. It seemingly became widespread with casualties rising among the protesters and the riot police.

President Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s crackdown on independent news network, print press and websites information about the former administration’s alleged corruption scandal had angered the people and created more tension.

Subsequently, President Kurmanbek Bakiyev headed for Osh in South Kyrgyzstan and forced to resign by the opposition that had assumed power in the aftermath of the political uprising.

Meanwhile, the fallout between President Bakiyev and Kremlin on the Manas Air Base lease extension to the U.S. and NATO for the Afghan war logistic operation claimed to have expedited his ouster.

Accordingly it’s reported that “Vice-Chairman of the State Duma of Russia Vladimir Zhirinovsky stated that the United States was involved in events in Kyrgyzstan to gain control of Manas Air Base.”

President Kurmanbek Bakiyev is currently exiled in Belarus and implicated in the ethnic cleansing by the Kyrgyz government.

Juxtaposed, the Uzbeks accused the security forces for instigating the Kyrgyz mobs in the slaughtering, physical abuse, sexual assault of pregnant women and girls as young as 12.

The allegations are denied by the Kyrgyz military in the south contrary to the evidence.

Based on the facts and international eyewitness report, the innocent civilians are paying the price for the political crisis that has exploded into a violent humanitarian disaster.

As usual, neither the deposed nor the interim government is prepared to accept responsibility for the massacre suffered more by the Uzbeks leading to retaliation against the Kyrgyz, setting the nation for a civil war.

It’s imperative for the interim government led by the Kyrgyz leader, Roza Otunbayeva to restore law and order, rein in on the bloodshed and unite the country rather than letting it fall apart.

Any political power is legitimate only when it is capable of providing equal security and protection to all citizens regardless by maintaining the democratic system in governance.

Given the Kyrgyzstan history, the solidarity among various ethnic groups and tribes are quintessential for national stability and economic success. In fact, the Kyrgyzstan flag is symbolic of the unity between forty tribes and the red color embracing the southern region.

The killings and brutality against ethnic Uzbeks is deplorable and must cease at all costs. Similarly, attacks against Kyrgyz are equally reprehensible and the authorities in power not precluding the ousted President Bakiyev are accountable for the deteriorating situation.

Peaceful settlement of the political discord is a priority to save lives. Kyrgyz and Uzbeks are the citizens of Kyrgyzstan. Senseless conflict aimed at particular ethnic group annihilation or that of one another leads nowhere except self-inflicted grief and pain.

Truce between the fighting groups is paramount to avoid further escalation of violence.

Otherwise, there will be none left on either sides due to the political authorities’ quest for power superseding the urgency to promote national harmony.

Kyrgyzstan being strategically important to United States and Russia for their respective goals, the political influence impacts the sovereignty and threatens the ruling government’s viability.

Kyrgyz and Uzbeks reconciliation is dependent upon the political leadership’s resolve and commitment to unify them, besides responding to the desperate economic needs.

There is tremendous hope for peace to prevail upon mutual recognition to respect one another as human beings and Kyrgyzstan nationals.

Thank you.

Padmini Arhant


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