Wed, May 04, 2011 - Page 6 News List

Commission urges probe of Kyrgyz security forces

Reuters, BISHKEK

Kyrgyz security forces may have been complicit in ethnic clashes that killed 470 people last year, an independent commission said yesterday, urging the government to investigate the military’s role in the violence.

The Kyrgyzstan Inquiry Commission, chaired by a former Finnish member of parliament, said certain attacks on Uzbek neighbourhoods of Osh last June, if proven beyond doubt in a court of law, would amount to “crimes against humanity.”

The government rejected the findings of complicity by its security forces. It said the report was one-sided and there was insufficient evidence of crimes against humanity.

Last year’s violence between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in southern Kyrgyzstan was the worst unrest in years to hit the volatile and strategic region of former Soviet Central Asia.

The independent commission, an initiative by Nordic countries accepted by Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbayeva, was mandated by the Kyrgyz government to investigate the violence.

“Had the military been properly instructed and deployed, it would have been possible to prevent or stop the violence,” its report said. “The failure of the security forces to protect their equipment against seizure raises questions of complicity.”

The violence saw Kyrgyz battle ethnic Uzbeks in and around the city of Osh. The report said Uzbeks made up nearly 75 percent of the 470 people killed, and a “disproportionately high number” of Uzbek-owned properties were destroyed.

It quoted Health Ministry data showing Kyrgyz accounted for the majority of the 1,900 people treated in hospital. More than 400,000 people were displaced by the clashes.

The violence erupted two months after President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was ousted in a popular revolt.

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