Reply Mon 14 Jun, 2010 08:45 pm
I spent a goodly amount of time reading through the news articles this afternoon. BBC which linked to British papers and even to some Russian reports which were, in my mind, quite objective.
No one seems able to say what triggered this. The President of Kyrgystan fled the country a couple of months ago, but the Uzbeks did not seem to be involved with that.
They share a common religion but the Uzbeks, despite being the minority "tribe" in population, tend to be the merchant class and that has caused resentment from the Kyrgys.
Some reports say that a Uzbek stiffed a Kyrgys' taxi driver out of a fare. Or maybe some Uzbek men raped some Kyrgy women.
And the rioting and rampaging began.
The death toll is listed by one source as hitting 1,000. That has got to be low. Uzbeks on the move is hitting 100,000 and the border between Krygystan and Uzbekistan appears now to be shut down, leaving thousands on the wrong side of the border.
As I read between the lines, the Russians will reluctantly step in to separate the factions and provide aid.
Reply Mon 14 Jun, 2010 08:52 pm
I read the situation as the Hatfields and the McCoys.
Reply Mon 14 Jun, 2010 08:58 pm
I'm really glad you've started this thread, RJB.
I've been trying to follow, but have had real difficulty understanding what exactly this conflict is about.
Indeed, as you say, the situation is looking really bad.
Reply Mon 14 Jun, 2010 09:04 pm
The Hatfields and McCoys, though, in Kentucky and Tennessee, involved a small number of people. Far fewer in number and in the degree of violence than the myth that evolved later portrayed.
I would put this, in terms of suffering, on a much higher scale.
Do you agree that this is not trivial?
(Sorry, Dys. You hit a nerve).
Reply Mon 14 Jun, 2010 09:15 pm

Kyrgyz unrest rooted in crime, ethnic divisions


Tuesday, June 15, 2010
CRIMINAL gangs exploited Kyrgyzstan's entrenched ethnic divisions and a power vacuum to spark the volatile Central Asian nation's latest surge of deadly violence, analysts say.

Historic ethnic hostilities between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks exploded last week into deadly violence that has left at least 97 dead and more than 1,200 wounded in the southern Fergana Valley.

The interim government has struggled to assert its control there since an April uprising that toppled president Kurmanbek Bakiyev, and criminal bosses in the region have stepped into the power vacuum, analysts said.

"Political regime change always brings with it changes in the criminal world in this country," said Sanobar Shermatova, an expert with news portal, which specialises on the region.

Regional mafia heads had a stake in Bakiyev's regime and relatives of the ousted president — Bakiyev's political stronghold was in southern Kyrgyzstan — in turn held sway over the south of the country, with the help of those crime bosses.

The gangs of marauding youths who started the latest violence overnight Thursday were organised by local crime syndicates, Shermatova and other analysts said.

"From the outside it looks like an inter-ethnic conflict but those who are provoking it are aiming at giving exactly that impression," Moscow-based journalist and Central Asia expert Arkady Dubnov said.

In fact, Dubnov explained, "this conflict was sparked by gangs of youths that were specially organised, hired and paid so that they would chaotically attack... to provoke animosities between the groups."

The hired gangs were brought in from outside villages and "had no relationship to the local people" in the villages where they committed violence, he said.

"It worked," he said. "The psychology there was completely manipulated and very quickly took hold."

The conflict was sparked on an "artificial pretext" of a rumour that a Kyrgyz girl had been raped by Uzbeks, said Sergei Masaulov, head of the Institute of Strategic Analysis in Kyrgyzstan.

"What's going on in the South is not an ethnic conflict but a classic act of provocation by outside players and the use of destructive forces and criminal acts to destabilise the country," Masaulov said.

Bakiyev, in exile in Belarus, vehemently denied any link to the violence in southern Kyrgyzstan, calling claims of his involvement a "shameless lie."

But while analysts say the latest violence originated with criminal gangs taking advantage of lawlessness in the south, they say long-standing ethnic divisions in the region have hugely exacerbated what might have been a containable problem.

Ethnic unrest has long simmered along the southern border of the ex-Soviet state, where it uneasily shares the fertile Ferghana valley with Uzbekistan.

Hundreds were killed in sporadic ethnic clashes between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s and the two groups have eyed each other warily since.

Neighbourhoods in and around the flashpoint city of Osh are frequently divided along ethnic lines.

Since Kyrgyzstan's independence in 1991, the country has seen a growing nationalist movement and disputes over the status of the ethnic Uzbeks.

The violence could see Kyrgyzstan, until recently hailed as one of the more democratic countries in Central Asia, lurch dramatically toward a more authoritarian government, analysts said.

"What is happening in Osh could bring a change of regime in the republic. In particular, society could ask for a 'firm hand', a strong leader," pointed out political analyst Mars Sariyev.
Reply Mon 14 Jun, 2010 09:25 pm
Thanks, B'Net, for filling in some of the gaps. I have kind of been winging this with snippets from one source or another while we get a handle on what is going on.
Reply Mon 14 Jun, 2010 09:33 pm
so sorry to hit a nerve RJB but yes in the scheme of things I do find it trivial, every bit as trivial as the tribal wars/genocide in africa, the horror of sub-sahara africa, the abject poverty of south asia (Bangladesh) the gross inhumanity occurring in N Korea. The multitudes of death by starvation in much of south america, etc etc etc.
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Reply Mon 14 Jun, 2010 09:37 pm
It sure would be the site of a perfect storm and domino effect if some outside agitators (Iran, Al Qaeda, etc.) chose to hire these crime mafia gangs to stir up conflicts between the various ethnic factions and then stir up conflicts between Russia, China and the US over what, if any, aid and military assistance is to be provided by whom to not only protect their own bases but also to help stabilize the new government or prop up the old corrupt government that was recently overthrown.

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Reply Tue 15 Jun, 2010 09:17 am
The death toll is listed by one source as hitting 1,000.
it seems accurate information is hard to come by------
GENEVA – The Red Cross says several hundred people have been killed in the Central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan since rioting began last Thursday.

The International Committee of the Red Cross says it has no precise death figures, but spokesman Christian Cardon says "we are talking about several hundreds" of people killed.
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Reply Tue 15 Jun, 2010 09:22 am
Kyrgyzstan's interim government, which took over when former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was ousted in an April uprising, has accused Bakiyev's family of instigating the violence to halt a June 27 referendum on a new constitution. Uzbeks have mostly backed the interim government, while many Kyrgyz in the south have supported Bakiyev. From self-imposed exile in Belarus, Bakiyev has denied any ties to the violence.
Reply Sat 19 Jun, 2010 03:09 pm
This issue has fallen off the radar, hasn't it. 2,000 reported dead, but that is probably low given the Muslim practice of burying dead before sunset. The number of displaced is now at something like 400,000. But who knows?
Reply Sat 19 Jun, 2010 03:13 pm
It's still on my radar (as I guess the rest of ours). Hard to contemplate..
Reply Sat 19 Jun, 2010 05:47 pm
i don't think " it's fallen off the radar " - but it does not get as much coverage in north-america as in europe .

Uzbeks in desperate plea for aid as full horror of ethnic slaughter emerges
Reply Sat 19 Jun, 2010 05:54 pm
Johnboy sighs and nods towards hamburg.
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Reply Sat 19 Jun, 2010 05:56 pm
Well, I read the guardian online, there ya go..

Today I read it cringing.
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Reply Sun 27 Jun, 2010 11:34 pm

Weeks after violence, Kyrgyzstan constitution OK'd

(AP) – 54 minutes ago

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan — Election officials in Kyrgyzstan say the Central Asian nation's public has overwhelmingly backed a new constitution.

More than 90 percent voted "yes" in Sunday's referendum, and a small fraction of votes remain to be counted.

Barely two weeks after ethnic purges left many minority Uzbek communities in smoldering ruin, about two-thirds of voters went to the polls Sunday, according to officials.

The vote went ahead even though many of the 400,000 ethnic Uzbeks forced to flee have not returned.

Roza Otunbayeva's interim government came to power after former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was ousted in April following deadly street protests.

Election officials said the final tally would be announced later Monday.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

OSH, Kyrgyzstan (AP) — Barely two weeks after ethnic purges left many minority Uzbek communities in smoldering ruin, about two-thirds of Kyrgyzstan's voters went to the polls Sunday to peacefully and overwhelmingly approve a new constitution they hoped would bring stability to the Central Asian nation.

Kyrgyzstan's interim government had pressed on with the vote even though many of the 400,000 ethnic Uzbeks forced to flee have yet to return to their homes and neighborhoods. The result gave legitimacy to the provisional government backed by most Uzbeks, though some of those displaced by violence were unable to vote Sunday.

The vote — supported by the U.N., the U.S. and Russia — is seen as an important step on the road to democracy for the interim government, which came to power after former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was ousted in April following deadly street protests.

Interim President Roza Otunbayeva said she now would be inaugurated as a caretaker president and form her government. Its members will form a lawmaking assembly which will pass the necessary legislation until parliamentary elections in October.

"It will not be an interim but a legal and legitimate government," Otunbayeva said. "We are leaving the word interim behind."

With over 70 percent of all precincts counted, the Central Election Commission said more than 90 percent of those who cast ballots voted for the new constitution and just about 8 percent voted against it. Some 2.7 million people were eligible to vote, and turnout was nearly 70 percent, it said.

Rampages by ethnic-majority Kyrgyz mobs in southern Kyrgyzstan this month killed as many as 2,000 people and forced 400,000 ethnic Uzbeks to temporarily flee. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe had 25 observers monitoring the vote but none in Osh or Jalal-Abad — the cities were the violence was centered — because it still considered them too dangerous.

Activists and journalists in the south, however, saw no signs of election-day violence. Otunbayeva and other officials also said the vote took place without incident.

Dinara Oshurakhunova, who heads a democracy rights group monitoring Sunday's vote, said despite the tensions in Osh, different ethnic groups voted in mixed neighborhoods.

"Most people here don't even understand what they are voting for, they don't understand what the issue is," Oshurakhunova said. "For them, taking part is simply an opportunity to stabilize the situation."

Khulkarpasha Sabirova, deputy head of the Uzbek community in Kyrgyzstan, said Uzbeks actively supported the referendum.

"We hope that our vote will bring stability and will prevent a repetition of the terrible events that took place," Sabirova told The Associated Press. "We hope that the new government will address the people's needs and that it will give its support to all ethnic groups."

The government changed voting rules on Friday so minority Uzbeks who had fled the violence but had no identity documents on them could still vote.

Authorities said they would hand out temporary IDs to ethnic Uzbeks who lost their papers in homes destroyed by arson. Under a government decree, voters without identification could cast a ballot if at least two election officials could confirm they lived in the area.

Associated Press journalists who visited several Uzbek villages in the south witnessed a robust turnout. Many families, however, were apparently too fearful to go back to their neighborhoods to receive the new papers.

In the border village of Suratash, only about 100 of some 4,000 Uzbek displaced people there cast their ballots by late afternoon.

Erkinai Umarova, who is living with dozens of friends and relatives in a cramped house in Suratash, said she lost all her documents when her home in Osh was destroyed by arson.

"Nobody has come to this place to promote the referendum, they didn't invite us," said Umarova, a 39-year-old Uzbek teacher. "It is as though we are not even citizens of Kyrgyzstan."

Izatulla Rakhmatullayev, an Osh-based rights activist, said he and other members of the Uzbek community carried ballot boxes to camps and villages where displaced people are living with relatives to allow them to vote.

"I believe that the majority of Uzbeks have voted for the constitution because they hope that a legitimate government will establish law and order," he said.

Rakhmatullayev said they couldn't reach all the villages, and some people couldn't vote because they lacked the necessary papers.

Central Election Commission chief Akylbek Sariev rejected critics who said the vote should have been postponed because of the violence that flared for several days beginning June 10.

"We couldn't delay that because the power of the state had to be established," Sariev told the AP. "The state of the nation was at stake."

The provisional authorities accuse Bakiyev's followers of instigating the recent attacks to try to stop the referendum, a charge that Bakiyev, now living in Belarus, denies.

Uzbeks have mostly supported the interim government, while Kyrgyz in the south backed Bakiyev, whose regime was seen as corrupt.

Both the United States and Russia have military bases in Kyrgyzstan. The U.S. Manas air base is a key transit center for U.S. and NATO troops flying in and out of Afghanistan.

Otunbayeva said Sunday that her government will keep the country's foreign policy unchanged, maintaining close ties with ex-Soviet neighbors in Central Asia, as well as Russia and China. "We will also continue our partnerships with the countries of the European Union and also with the United States," she said.
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Reply Sun 27 Jun, 2010 11:35 pm

Russia warns Kyrgyzstan could implode after vote
Toronto, June 28, 2010
First Published: 08:01 IST(28/6/2010)
Last Updated: 08:03 IST(28/6/2010)

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned on Sunday that Kyrgyzstan could collapse and that a vote aimed at establishing parliamentary democracy could allow extremists to take power in the former Soviet republic.

Kyrgyzstan voted on Sunday in a landmark referendum aimed at creating Central Asia's first parliamentary democracy, only two weeks after an explosion of ethnic bloodshed killed hundreds. The country's leader said voters approved the change.

Medvedev said Kyrgyzstan was Russia's strategic partner. But his remarks, just hours after Kyrgyz leader Roza Otunbayeva said the referendum placed her country on the path to democracy, contrasted with the strong support Kyrgyzstan's new government received from Moscow after a revolt in April.

Speaking after a Group of 20 summit in Toronto, Medvedev said Kyrgyzstan had to make its own choice about which political system it chose. The country previously had a presidential system.

But he warned that the authorities in Bishkek were unable to ensure order in the country, which hosts US and Russian military bases.

"Taking into account the fact that even now the authorities are unable to impose order, that the legitimacy of the authorities is low and its support creates a host of questions, I do not really understand how a parliamentary republic would look and work in Kyrgyzstan," he said.

"Will this not lead to a chain of eternal problems -- to reshuffles in parliament, to the rise to power of this or that political group, to authority being passed constantly from one hand to another, and, finally, will this not help those with extremist views to power?" he said. "This concerns me."

Otunbayeva, a former ambassador to the United States and Britain, claimed power after overthrowing former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, although the new government has struggled to gain control of the south, Bakiyev's family stronghold.

At least 283 people, and possibly hundreds more, died this month in violence between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in southern Kyrgyzstan. Russia has refused repeated requests from Bishkek to send peacekeepers to halt the violence.

"In its current state, there are a host of scenarios for Kyrgyzstan, including the most unpleasant scenario -- going up to the collapse of the state," Medvedev said.

"To prevent such a scenario, it needs to have strong and well-organized authorities," he said.

Russia, the United States and China are the major powers in Central Asia and Medvedev said he had briefed world leaders at meetings in Toronto about the situation in Kyrgyzstan.
Reply Sun 27 Jun, 2010 11:50 pm
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned on Sunday that Kyrgyzstan could collapse and that a vote aimed at establishing parliamentary democracy could allow extremists to take power in the former Soviet republic.
does anyone believe a word the Russians say? If so why?
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