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Kyrgyzstan rejects 'unacceptable' unrest probe

04 may 2011, 10:14
Kyrgyzstan on Tuesday angrily rejected an international report into ethnic violence last year in its south that killed hundreds, saying the findings were unacceptable and risked flaring tensions, AFP reports.

The international commission -- whose creation had been backed by the government -- said the weakness of the authorities was a prime factor behind the June bloodletting between ethnic Kyrgyz and ethnic Uzbeks.

According to the probe, the violence in and around the cities of Osh and Jalalabad left a total of 470 people dead and displaced some 411,000, with the Uzbek minority bearing the brunt of the suffering.

The deadly clashes came as a provisional government struggled to assert its authority two months after the ousting of former president Kurmanbek Bakiyev in April 2010 protests that also left dozens dead.

The panel said the rioting was "reasonably foreseeable" amid rising ethnic tensions in multi-ethnic south Kyrgyzstan after Bakiyev's departure and the authorities should have taken counter measures to prevent the unrest.

"The basic responsibility of any government is to protect all its citizens, which obligation was not fulfilled in southern Kyrgyzstan last June," said commission head Kimmo Kiljunen, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly's special envoy for Central Asia.

"The provisional government... either failed to recognize or underestimated the deterioration in inter-ethnic relations in southern Kyrgyzstan," said the report, which had been widely leaked in local media in advance.

The Kyrgyz government -- which has always insisted that Bakiyev and his followers plotted the riots as revenge -- lashed out at the commission and rejecting its findings in a point-by-point report of its own.

"The circumstances from which the conflict arose were not due to the provisional government and were not from the events of April-May, 2010," the Kyrgyz government said.

"They were as a result of protracted policies implemented by former regimes."

By contrast, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry (KIC) said there was "no conclusive evidence" to incriminate Bakiyev's family in planning the riots. The core of Bakiyev's support was among Kyrgyz nationalists in the south.

The international report said the clashes took place against a background of an under-representation of ethnic Uzbeks in political life in Kyrgyzstan and rising Kyrgyz nationalism stoked by Osh city mayor Melis Myrzakmatov.

While ethnic Kyrgyz suffered in the clashes as well, the majority of the victims were Uzbeks whose properties also suffered a disproportionate amount of damage, it said.

But the government effectively accused the report of showing bias against ethnic Kyrgyz, saying it portrayed the Uzbek minority as "defenceless victims".

"Kyrgyzstan considers it completely unacceptable that the documents clearly display an overwhelming tendency that only one ethnic group has committed crimes, ignoring the victims and deaths of this very group," the government said.

It said the "serious deficiencies" in the report risked again whipping up tensions in the south, where observers describe the situation as stable but tense.

"Of particular concern is the fact that these deficiencies may negatively influence the situation in Kyrgyzstan," the government said.

"Differing parties may be provoked by dissatisfaction caused by the insufficient completeness and objectivity of the investigations," it warned.

The international report also urged the government to investigate the role of security forces, saying attackers "in many instances" had seized arms from the security forces with little resistance.

"The failure of members of the security forces to protect their equipment raises questions of complicity in the events, either directly or indirectly," the report said.

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