Rights groups state that theauthorities have failed to ensure justice for victims of unrest that shook the country last summer. Amnesty International warned that the failure of the Kyrgyz government to prosecute the perpetrators of the conflict may lead to a new wave of unrest.
"The failure to bring to justice to those behind the violence could provide fertile soil for the seeds of future turmoil and future human rights violations," Nicola Duckworth, the head of the group's Europe and Central Asia program, said. Both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International released their reports ahead of the first anniversary of the conflict.
The ethnic clashes which took place in the south of Kyrgyzstan last year, mainly in the cities of Osh and Jalal-Abad, left at least 470 people dead and forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes. Overwhelming majority of those attacked were ethnic. Amnesty and HRW pointed out that the official investigations by Kyrgyz authorities nonetheless mainly targeted Uzbeks.
While rights groups have emphasized what has been known to international observers, it is highly unlikely that the Kyrgyz authorities will respond to the reports in a positive manner. Kyrgyz officials have consistently blamed ethnic Uzbeks for instigating the conflict and have rejected earlier calls from international human rights bodies to investigate the allegations that the armed forces and the police helped ethnic Kyrgyz to target Uzbeks during the conflict.
Kyrgyz officials also claim that their justice system is free of biases and discrimination against Uzbeks or any other ethnic groups although all the evidences point to the contrary. Kimmo Kiljunen, a Finnish politician investigating the conflict and concluding that some of the attacks directed against Uzbeks last summer might have amounted to crimes against humanity, has recently been declared persona non grata by the Kyrgyz Parliament.
Amnesty and HRW confirmed Kiljunen’s findings, saying that ethnic Kyrgyz committed a crime against humanity. "Most of the rapes and sexual violence were committed by Kyrgyz men, often in groups, against Uzbek women and girls, although there were also instances of Uzbek men raping Kyrgyz women," Amnesty said.
HRW stated that the police and authorities have been highly selective in their investigations. Although Uzbeks were the main victims of the conflict, around 85 percent of detainees were Uzbeks, and out of 124 people detained on murder charges, a whopping 115 were Uzbek. "The profoundly flawed investigations and trials, mainly affecting the ethnic Uzbek minority, undermine efforts to promote reconciliation and fuel tensions that might one day lead to renewed violence," HRW stated.
It remains to be seen how the Kyrgyz authorities will respond to these allegations, but the past experience suggests that there will be further expressions of anger and resentment among Kyrgyz nationalists who believe that they have been unfairly blamed for the conflict.