Wednesday, 02 February 2011

KYRGYZ NATIONAL COMMISSION CLAIMS UZBEK COMMUNITY LEADERS RESPONSIBLE FOR JUNE VIOLENCE

Published in Field Reports

By Joldosh Osmonov (2/2/2011 issue of the CACI Analyst)

On January 11, the national commission investigating the causes of the inter-ethnic clashes between ethnic Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in southern Kyrgyzstan presented its report to the Kyrgyz parliament. The long-awaited official results of the commission caused heated discussions for two full days in parliament.

The commission was formed by then Interim Government (IG) leader Roza Otunbaeva and consisted of government officials, human rights defenders, journalists, and other people well known to the public.

On January 11, the national commission investigating the causes of the inter-ethnic clashes between ethnic Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in southern Kyrgyzstan presented its report to the Kyrgyz parliament. The long-awaited official results of the commission caused heated discussions for two full days in parliament.

The commission was formed by then Interim Government (IG) leader Roza Otunbaeva and consisted of government officials, human rights defenders, journalists, and other people well known to the public. Abdygany Erkebaev, a member of the IG, was appointed head of the commission.

When presenting the results, Erkebaev stated that the clashes were premeditated and organized. The commission claimed Kadyrjan Batyrov and other Uzbek community leaders were the main instigators and perpetrators of the conflict. According to Erkebaev, after the April 7 events which led to ouster of the President Bakiev, Batyrov and his supporters organized over 25 protests and demonstrations of a separatist nature in southern Kyrgyzstan, demanding improved political and economic rights including autonomy for the Uzbek minority. Moreover, before the clashes they formed special armed groups of young Uzbeks, ostensibly to protect Uzbek neighborhoods, and re-equipped ordinary Soviet trailer trucks into military vehicles which were later found in the houses of ethnic Uzbeks. According to Erkebaev, the presented facts prove that these Uzbek leaders were preparing for bloody clashes.

It is notable that Batyrov has previously stated that the Uzbek community has never demanded autonomy. “Neither me nor any other Uzbek community leader has ever touched this issue”, he said. In turn, Batyrov named several reasons for the outburst of inter-ethnic conflict and emphasized the constant oppression of the Uzbek minority by the authorities and criminal leaders as the main cause of resentment among ethnic Uzbeks. However, he disagreed with the opinion that the conflict was instigated by ethnic Uzbeks.

Batyrov was born in Jalal-Abad in southern Kyrgyzstan. He owns a number of businesses in Russia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan, whereas all his activities in Kyrgyzstan are solely philanthropic. He opened the private university in his hometown and sponsors other social initiatives while presiding of the Jalal-Abad Uzbek National Cultural Center. Batyrov was a Member of Parliament from 2005 to 2007 and was known as one of former President Bakiev’s critics.

Regarding the alleged role of former President Bakiev and his family and supporters in the June events, which was frequently mentioned by law enforcement bodies during that time, the commission concluded that further examination and research is necessary to determine their role in the conflict. However, the commission mentioned meetings of Maxim and Janysh Bakiev, the son and brother of former President Bakiev, with leaders of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Taliban, and the United Tajik Opposition, of which the latter supposedly agreed to assist in destabilizing the situation in Kyrgyzstan. For this purpose, dozens of militants entered southern Kyrgyzstan prior the June clashes, Erkebaev claimed.

Furthermore, the commission partially accused the then Interim Government of failing to act responsibly before and during the June events. Erkebaev emphasized that prior to the conflict the IG received nine pieces of intelligence data from the security services warning of the possibility of inter-ethnic clashes. The commission singled out certain members of the IG, those responsible for the law enforcement bodies, for failing to prevent the conflict from escalating. “These people were not able to carry out their duties and should thus bear partial responsibility for the events”, the report states. The head of the State Security Service Keneshbek Duyshebaev, former Interior Minister Bolot Sher, former coordinator of law enforcement bodies and deputy IG leader Azimbek Beknazarov, former General Prosecutor Baytemir Ibraev and the former special IG representative to the south Ismail Isakov, along with many other names, were included in the list.

Responding to such accusations, Isakov, currently a Member of Parliament, called the results one-sided and false. According to Isakov, the IG and all its members took the responsibility during those days and did everything possible to stop the clashes. Isakov intends to sue the commission since the report offends his dignity.

It is notable that the results of the commission are questioned not only by those who were mentioned in the report, but also by the members of the commission itself. A number of members of the commission, mostly journalists and human rights defenders, left the commission criticizing the methods of the chairman. According to these former members, the commission’s work lacks transparency and is partial.

Besides this national commission, two other commissions, one international and one parliamentary, are investigating the tragic events. The international commission led by Kimmo Kiljunen, the Special Representative of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in Central Asia, has promised to announce the results in February 2011, whereas the parliamentary commission will present its report in March.
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