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Human Rights Watch claims government forces contributed to Kyrgyzstan violence

In a report released by Human Rights Watch, government forces are said to have contributed to ethnic violence that shook Kyrgyzstan in June. The report also cites flaws in the government's investigation of the violence.

Kyrgyz soldiers near a barricade

Human Rights Watch says Kyrgyz soldiers may not have done enough

According to a report by Human Rights Watch released Monday, Kyrgyzstan government forces contributed to the country's explosion of bloodshed in ethnic Uzbek neighborhoods in June that left at least 371 dead.

Citing interviews with more than 200 victims, witnesses, government officials and law enforcement personnel, Human Rights Watch concluded that while government forces were not necessarily responsible for the violence against the ethnic Uzbeks, they may have purposefully or inadvertently made the situation worse.

"It's clear that the massive ethnic violence posed colossal challenges for Kyrgyz security forces," said Ole Solvang, one of the authors of the report. "Yet we found that some of the security forces became part of the problem rather than the solution."

Human Rights Watch logo

Human Rights Watch is a New York-based activist group

Unclear intentions

In some instances, men wearing camouflaged uniforms and driving military vehicles removed barricades blocking access to Uzbek neighborhoods, allowing violent mobs to enter the towns and cause extensive damage.

Other cases listed in the report show that government forces may have carried out legitimate procedures, such as entering a neighborhood to disarm residents, but did not in turn provide adequate protection for the residents.

The report also indicates that during investigations carried out by Kyrgyz authorities into the violence, widespread violations had occurred. Suspects under investigation were often denied the right to a lawyer and were subjected to torture in custody.

The report credits senior Kyrgyz officials for acknowledging abuses in the investigation, but still calls for a more thorough investigation to hold those responsible at lower levels of government accountable.

"Those responsible for the heinous crimes against both Kyrgyz and Uzbeks during the June violence should be prosecuted irrespective of their ethnicity, title, or rank," Solvang said.

Author: Matt Zuvela (AFP/AP)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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