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15 June 2010
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SPECIAL CRISIS UPDATE 15 June 2010 - Kyrgyzstan:
Violence in Kyrgyzstan leads to call for international community to operationalize their Responsibility to Protect
I. Top UN Officials speak out on the gravity of the crisis in Kyrgyzstan
1. UN Special Advisers of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide and on the responsibility to protect issue statement of concern on the Situation in Kyrgyzstan
2. UN human rights chief Navi Pillay urges swift action to quell violence in Kyrgyzstan
3. Ban ki-Moon meets with the head of Kyrgyzstan’s interim Government today regarding the crisis in the south
II. Calls for Action from civil society
1. Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect sends open letter on the situation in Kyrgyzstan
2. Amnesty International urges government of Kyrgyzstan to protect its population
3. Minority Rights Group International condemns attacks on ethnic Uzbeks
4. Human Rights Watch issues strong call for decisive action to end violence in Kyrgyzstan
Violence in Kyrgyzstan leads to call for international community to operationalize their Responsibility to Protect
Ethnic violence has recently escalated in Kyrgyztan following the uprising of 7 April 2010 that saw former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev flee to Belarus. The former President’s southern stronghold around the city of Osh has witnessed most of the violence, as supporters of the interim government under Roza Otunbayeva – mainly ethnic Uzbeks – have clashed with ethnic Kyrgyz’s that support former President Bakiyev.
Small-scale communal violence after the April uprising between Kyrgyz and Uzbek groups has now escalated into full-scale street fighting since 11 June. According to OCHA, 170 casualties have been reported in the southern region of the country, with over 1700 wounded.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, reported on 15 June that there have been outbreaks of “extreme brutality” in Kyrgyzstan, and the inter-ethnic violence seems to be “orchestrated, targeted, and well-planned.” Furthermore, Navi Pillay stated that, “indiscriminate killing and rape has been taking place in Kyrgyzstan on the basis on ethnicity.” The UN Security Council also met on 15 June and issued a statement condemning the violence in Kyrgyzstan, urging for a return to calm and a restoration of the rule of law.
The violence has also sparked a massive refugee crisis inside the country, 200,000 have been displaced by the conflict according to the UNHCR. Uzbekistan reported to the UN that over 75,000 people have crossed their border from Kyrgyzstan and the number is steadily rising on a daily basis. Both the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the World Food Programme (WFP) have launched emergency programs in Uzbekistan to assist with the high influx of refugees.
The interim President called for Russia to deploy troops to help quell the violence in the country. Russia has deployed just over 100 troops to protect a Russian airbase and its personnel, but has ruled out leading a regional peacekeeping mission to quell the violence through the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) of former Soviet states. Russia has agreed to send helicopters and other transport vehicles to the interim government in Kyrgyzstan to increase their capacity to deal with the violence.
On 15 June 2010, UN Special Advisors on the Prevention of Genocide and on the responsibility to protect issued a call on the international community to operationalize their Responsibility to Protect. The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect also issued a statement echoing their call and raising concerns that the crimes committed have reached the threshold of an RtoP situation.
As Paragraphs 138-139 of the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document outline, States have the responsibility to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. Kyrgyzstan, like every other State, carries this responsibility to protect its populations and to prevent these crimes from occurring. It is evident that the interim government of Kyrgyzstan has proved unable to protect its population from ethnic violence and avert the humanitarian crisis that has ensued. The Responsibility to Protect now falls on the international community to ensure that mass atrocities are stopped immediately and that appropriate measures are taken to prevent crimes from reoccurring. Below, please find a selection of articles from UN officials and civil society condemning the violence and calling for action to halt the crimes.
I. Top UN Officials speak out on the gravity of the crisis in Kyrgyzstan
1. UN Special Advisers of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide and on the Responsibility to Protect
on the Situation in Kyrgyzstan
Office of the Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide
15 June 2010

Two Special Advisers of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Francis Deng on the Prevention of Genocide and Edward Luck on the responsibility to protect, expressed grave concern on Tuesday over the recent eruption of violence in Kyrgyzstan. “I am extremely concerned about the violence in South Kyrgyzstan, which has broken out along ethnic lines. I encourage the Interim Government and international actors to do all in their power to stop the violence and ensure the protection of vulnerable minority communities,” stated Mr. Deng.

The Special Advisers have been monitoring the situation in Kyrgyzstan closely since April 2010, when the ouster of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev brought ethnic tensions to the surface, particularly between the Kyrgyz and Uzbek communities in the south. The Special Advisers noted that the violence that started on 10 June appears to have targeted ethnic Uzbeks in particular.  “The pattern and scale of the violence, which has resulted in the mass displacement of Uzbeks from South Kyrgyzstan, could amount to ethnic cleansing,” warned Special Adviser Luck.  He reminded all parties that the 2005 World Summit banned either the commission or the incitement of ethnic cleansing, genocide, war crimes, or crimes against humanity.

Given the requests by the Interim Government for international assistance to the people of Kyrgysztan, the Special Advisers called on the international community to operationalise  its “responsibility to protect
”  by providing coordinated and timely assistance to stop the violence  and its incitement. They underscored the urgency of ensuring that the violence does not spread to other regions of Kyrgyzstan or to neigbouring countries.  

The Special Advisers called on the Interim Government, neighboring states, and the larger international community to take all possible steps to reduce the risk of violence along ethnic lines in the future. “The current crisis in Kyrgyzstan has revealed a clear ethnic fault-line that has developed over decades. Once they have curbed the violence, the Kyrgyzstan authorities should acknowledge and address its underlying causes in order to prevent any recurrence, put in place a process of reconciliation in collaboration with civil society, and work to preserve the country’s ethnic diversity and heritage.  The United Nations and the international community stand ready to assist in these efforts.”

See joint statement here
2. UN human rights chief urges swift action to quell violence in Kyrgyzstan
OHCHR Media Centre
15 June 2010
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, expressed alarm Monday at the escalating violence in southern Kyrgyzstan, and urged the local and national authorities “to take swift and decisive action to protect citizens, irrespective of their ethnic origin, and curb the violence.”
Pillay said she was shocked by the scale of the inter-ethnic violence which is reported to have led to more than a hundred people being killed, and well over a thousand injured, since fighting erupted in the city of Osh on 10 June, spreading to the neighbouring town of Jalalabad over the weekend.
“It seems indiscriminate killings, including of children, and rapes have been taking place on the basis of ethnicity,” Pillay said. “This is a very dangerous situation, given the ethnic patchwork in this part of Kyrgyzstan, as well as in neighbouring areas of Uzbekistan,” she warned. “It has been known for many years that this region is a potential tinder-box, and for that reason it is essential that the authorities act firmly to halt the fighting – which appears to be orchestrated, targeted and well planned – before it spreads further inside Kyrgzstan or even across the border into neighbouring countries.”
(…) “They must intervene to protect people at risk, especially vulnerable groups including particular minorities, women and children,” Pillay said. “They also need to do their utmost to stop the destruction of property, which may greatly complicate the effort to find a peaceful solution.”
The High Commissioner also expressed concern about huge numbers of people, mostly Uzbeks, who have been forced to flee their homes, and urged both Uzbekistan – which is already reported to have received tens of thousands of people fleeing the fighting – and Tajikistan to keep their borders open to anyone, irrespective of age or gender, who is in need of sanctuary. (…)
Click here to read the full story.
3. Kyrgyzstan: Ban discusses crisis with leaders as UN mobilizes aid for civilians
UN News Centre
15 June 2010
(…) The Secretary-General voiced deep concern about the violence, especially given the inter-ethnic character of the unrest, in a separate phone call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
(…) Meanwhile, a group of UN human rights experts today voiced their alarm and deep concern about ethnic tensions that have erupted into violence in Kyrgyzstan, including the cities of Osh and Jalalabad.
“Putting a stop to the current violence and preventing its further escalation or spreading to other areas must be the first priority of the provisional Government. The security of those from all ethnic groups, including all minorities in Kyrgyzstan, must be protected,” they stated in a news release.
“The true causes of the tensions should be fully analyzed and addressed to help ensure that this appalling situation cannot happen again,” added the experts – Gay McDougall, Independent Expert on minority issues; Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; and Githu Muigai, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.(…)
Click here to read the full story. Also see the statement of the SG on the situation in Kyrgystan here.
II. Calls for Action from Civil Society
1. Open Statement on the Situation in Kyrgyzstan
Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
15 June 2010
United Nations (UN) member states must uphold their 2005 commitment to the responsibility to protect and take immediate action to protect populations from crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing in Kyrgyzstan. The last five days have seen echoes of the very atrocities that gave rise to the rallying cry of “never again” in the wake of the Holocaust, Bosnia, and Rwanda: images of burnt corpses, destroyed homes, and hundreds of thousands of people driven from their homes, many stuck at a closed border. Kyrgyzstan’s government has pleaded for assistance to halt the violence and with each passing day lives are lost. There is no excuse for inaction. Failure to act will cost more lives.
Already, at least 170 people are known to have been killed and 2,000 injured, primarily ethnic Uzbeks, with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees reporting today that 275,000 have been displaced as interethnic violence has spread from Osh to Kyrgyzstan’s second largest city, Jalalabad. The attacks, carried out by groups of armed men, appear, as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay noted, premeditated and targeted against ethnic Uzbeks. These armed groups continue to terrorize ethnic Uzbek communities unimpeded as there is no robust military or police presence to deter them. While the situation in Osh appears calmer today, violence in Jalalabad continues and the risk of escalating, deadly violence remains.
The Kyrgyz government has the primary responsibility to halt the violence and protect their population. Yet they have already recognized that their forces have been overrun and that they are unable to uphold their responsibility and have asked for help. Russia was asked to provide military assistance, yet appears unwilling to intervene. Nor has the regional security organization, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), offered military assistance. The United States, the European Union (EU), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and the UN have similarly failed to offer the military or police assistance desperately needed to quell the violence and provide immediate protection to the people at risk.
A multi-pronged international response is now needed to save lives. The priority is for the UN Security Council to authorize a two-phase operation to deter and halt atrocities. The first phase would be a time-limited multilateral force, consisting of both military and police, led possibly by Russia and the CSTO, to assist the Kyrgyzstan forces in halting the violence and creating a secure environment for the provision of humanitarian assistance in Osh, Jalalabad, and at the border crossing with Uzbekistan. This initial, short-term deployment should be followed by a UN, EU, or OSCE mission consisting of a strong international police force and a mandate to strengthen state capacity for good governance, rule of law, and security sector reform and to provide mediation and dispute resolution assistance.
The UN Secretary-General and high-level officials must take every opportunity to support the call of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide and the Special Adviser focused on the Responsibility to Protect for the “international community to operationalise its ‘responsibility to protect’ by providing coordinated and timely assistance to stop the violence and its incitement.” They must also urge the government of Kyrgyzstan to ensure that their forces do not participate nor are complicit in the commission or incitement of atrocities. All actors have a responsibility to make clear that those who incite, aid or perpetrate crimes will be held accountable and take measures to ensure that impunity does not prevail.
The atrocities being perpetrated are preventable. As each day passes and the government’s plea for help is ignored, more lives are lost. Member states have a responsibility to protect populations from crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. The time to act is now.
Full letter available shortly at
2. Kyrgyzstan government must protect its population
Amnesty International
14 June 2010
Amnesty International has urged the Kyrgyzstani interim government and local authorities to ensure adequate protection for all Kyrgyzstani citizens, in particular those of Uzbek origin who have been targeted during the violence in the southern part of the country.  
(…) “The Kyrgyzstani law enforcement is failing to effectively provide human security to its population, in particular to the Uzbek community,” said Maisy Weicherding, Amnesty International’s expert on Central Asia.

“Immediate action is needed to prevent a further deterioration of the situation. The security forces, in their attempts to restore law and order in the city of Osh and the surrounding areas, must respect fundamental human rights.”  
(…) Eyewitnesses have reported that groups of armed civilians, mostly young men claiming to be Kyrgyz, were roaming the streets of Osh, targeting districts of the city inhabited mainly by Uzbeks shooting at civilians, setting shops and houses on fire and looting private property. While official figures for the past two days of violence speak about more than 60 people killed, unconfirmed reports given to the independent news agency by local district council representatives in Osh said that at least 500 Uzbek civilians had been killed by midday on 12 June and over 2,000 had been injured, many seriously.  (…)
Click here to read Amnesty International’s full news release.
Click here to read AI’s news release “Kyrgyzstan neighbours urged to open borders”
3. MRG calls for protection for minorities as ethnic Uzbeks flee violent attacks in Krygyzstan
Minority Rights Group International
14 June 2010
Minority Rights Group International (MRG) condemns the targeting of ethnic Uzbeks in recent attacks in Kyrgyzstan, and calls on state authorities to guarantee the security of minorities, who face a continued threat of violence.
(…) Kyrgyzstan's interim government, which assumed power after a violent uprising which ousted President Kurmanbek Bakiyev in April, is struggling to contain the violence in the country's south, which is home to an ethnic Uzbek minority of around one million. Some Uzbeks have accused security forces of failing to stop - or participating in - the attacks.
‘MRG calls on Kyrgyzstan’s government to take all necessary measures to protect its population, including minorities,’ says Carl Soderbergh, MRG’s Director of Policy and Communications.
(…)‘MRG is particularly worried that the violence could spiral out of control. The authorities must ensure that rule of law is re-established and that perpetrators are brought to justice,’ added Soderbergh.
Click here to read the full news release
4. Kyrgyzstan: Decisive Action Needed to Rein in Violence
Human Rights Watch
13 June 2010
The government of Kyrgyzstan should take immediate measures to ensure safety for people attempting to flee unchecked violence in southern Kyrgyzstan, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch reiterated its call for a UN-mandated force to assist the Kyrgyz government in providing protection and stopping ethnic violence engulfing Osh and spreading to other cities in southern Kyrgyzstan.
(…) Human Rights Watch called on the international community to work with the Kyrgyz government to provide for the protection and humanitarian needs of ethnic Uzbeks who are fleeing the violence and massing at different points along the border with Uzbekistan.
Click here to read the full news release.
Click here to read HRW’s 12 June news release “Kyrgyzstan: UN should act to help end violence“
Click here to read HRW’s 11 June news release “Kyrgyzstan: Protect all ethnic groups”


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