Heightened danger for Uzbek civilians in Kyrgyzstan


The Economist this week noted the continuing need for international intervention that doesn’t seem to be coming:

The time for such geopolitical caution is past. The interim government needs and deserves help. Although the bloodletting seemed to be subsiding as The Economist went to press, the misery of the refugees needs to be alleviated. Relief supplies are needed on both sides of the border. The UN’s proposal to set up an “aid corridor” is welcome and urgent. Persuading terrified refugees to go home may require a peacekeeping force, organised either in the region or by the UN. Failure to safeguard the refugees’ return would be to accede in an ethnic cleansing that would set a terrible precedent in Central Asia and beyond. Better to pursue multi-ethnic harmony within Stalin’s hateful legacy than to redraw the map.

Furthermore, as I blogged previously, eyewitnesses (one now with video evidence, reported in The Economist this week) in Uzbek neighborhoods saw regular Kyrgyz troops actively assisting the anti-Uzbek mobs in several cities, either clearing their paths with military vehicles or even joining the shooting of civilians. Thus only an outside peacekeeping force will be sufficient to reassure Uzbek civilians that it is safe to return to their homes or to normal activities. None is on the way.


The mayor of this southern city [Osh, where most of the killing occurred] issued an ultimatum that Uzbeks voluntarily dismantle the barricades they have sheltered behind by Sunday night or force would be used to eliminate the barriers, some made with the wreckage of trucks destroyed in the rioting, minibuses and large boulders. The Uzbeks have been holed up in their neighborhoods for days in the wake of the ethnic violence that killed thousands and caused a massive refugee crisis.

“To create zones where the government does not have power, we are never going to allow that,” said the mayor, Melisbek Myrzakmatov.

Uzbek leaders immediately rejected his demand.
Uzbeks have said the Kyrgyz military took part in the attacks, and they have repeatedly said that they will not get rid of the barricades because they have no confidence that the provisional Kyrgyz government will protect them.

Ethnic Kyrgyz also died in the rioting, but it appears that most of the casualties and damage were in Uzbek neighborhoods.

This isn’t going to fix itself. But the world doesn’t care.

This post originally appeared at Starboard Broadside.

Bill Humphrey

About Bill Humphrey

Bill Humphrey is the primary host of WVUD's Arsenal For Democracy talk radio show and a local elected official.
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