Kyrgyzstan Marks One-Year Anniversary of Ethnic Violence

Posted June 10th, 2011 at 3:30 pm (UTC-5)
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Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbayeva has marked the one-year anniversary of ethnic violence in the southern part of the country by attending a memorial service to honor the victims of the clashes.

Speaking in the city of Osh Friday, Ms. Otunbayeva unveiled a marble statue known as Mothers' Tears. It depicts two women, one Kyrgyz and one Uzbek, weeping and embracing. However, she warned of the risk of more violence, saying there are still forces hoping to gain political capital from further bloodshed.

About 470 people were killed, thousands injured and hundreds of thousands displaced during four days of violence between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks, mainly around Osh and Jalalabad. A report by the Kyrgyzstan Inquiry Commission last month detailed the violence by both sides, but highlighted what it said was the systematic and widespread nature of the attacks on entire Uzbek neighborhoods.

The commission said Kyrgyz security forces used excessive force in their search operations and tortured or ill-treated the detainees. Ethnic Uzbeks accounted for 75 percent of the casualties and suffered almost 90 percent of the property damage, but also accounted for about 80 percent of those accused of crimes.

Earlier this week, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch called on the government of Kyrgyzstan to act on the recommendations of the commission report. They say a failure to hold balanced investigations and deliver justice could spark new violence.

Human Rights Watch said there are “strong indications” that some military and police units “knowingly or unwittingly facilitated” the attacks on the Uzbek neighborhoods.

The rioting last year occurred as a provisional government struggled to gain a foothold after former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was ousted in a bloody uprising in April. Uzbeks supported the interim government, while many Kyrgyz in the south supported the toppled leader.