GENEVA (15 June 2010) – A group of UN human rights experts* today expressed their alarm and deep concern about ethnic tensions that have erupted into violence in the south of Kyrgyzstan, including the cities of Osh and Jalalabad. The violence has reportedly claimed the lives of over one hundred and left many hundreds more injured. A state of emergency has been declared in the region following the outbreak of violence between ethnic Kyrgyz and ethnic Uzbeks. The situation has dramatically deteriorated since 11 June with reports of continuing killings and the burning of residences, shops and other properties.
“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,” stated the UN experts. “The true causes of the tensions should be fully analyzed and addressed to help ensure that this appalling situation cannot happen again.”
“The present situation remains extremely fragile and dangerous and it must be confronted with swift and appropriate responses to calm the situation, restore order and prevent further outbreaks of violence. This must be done in full conformity with human rights obligations.”
“At times of political uncertainty or significant change, history shows us that tensions and issues that have perhaps simmered under the surface may boil over into violence. It is essential to quickly establish the rule of law and to establish long term measures to promote dialogue and improve relations between ethnic groups. The Government has a responsibility to put in place measures to prevent these violent crimes and to conduct investigations and ensure prosecution of those responsible for the killings.”
The experts also expressed concern at reports of a shoot-to-kill policy adopted by the provisional Government noting that “such policies would undermine clear legal standards on the use of force by security forces and endanger innocent persons. Force should be used by law enforcement officials only when strictly necessary, and that force must be in proportion to the legitimate objective to be achieved.”
Tensions have risen in Kyrgyzstan since the overthrow of former President Kurmanbek Bakiev following mass protests and violence in April. In May 2010 violence between ethnic Kyrgyz and minority Uzbeks also broke out in the southern city of Jalalabad resulting in deaths and rising concerns over ethnic relations and possible further incidents.
“Minority rights, non-discrimination and the rule of law are all key components of long-term stability and conflict prevention,” stated the UN experts.
* Ms. Gay McDougall, Independent Expert on minority issues; Mr. Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Mr. Githu Muigai, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
OHCHR Country Page – Kyrgyzstan: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/KGIndex.aspx