OSH - Monday, June 18, 2012 -
On June 4, 2012, President Almazbek Atambayev signed the decree “Day of remembrance of tragic events in cities of Osh, Jalalabad, and separate districts of Osh and Jalalabad regions in June 2010” in Bishkek. As stated by the office of the president, June 10 serves as a day of remembrance of victims of the tragic events, help consolidating society, and promote peace and stability in Kyrgyzstan. A minute of silence was held throughout the country on June 10, 2012 at 10 am.
From June 10 to 14, 2010, interethnic clashes erupted in southern Kyrgyzstan between Kyrgyz, who represent the titular nation, and the Uzbek community who constitute Kyrgyzstan’s largest minority. The tragic events claimed thousands of victims, destroyed homes, and left the country divided.
According to the Independent International Commission (IIC), 74 percent of the casualties were ethnic Uzbeks, although representatives from the titular nationality also suffered. Since the event, numerous reports have been published in Kyrgyzstan, including a Report of the Ombudsman’s Commission and a Report of the National Commission. Kyrgyzstan’s Inquiry Commission’s published its report on May 3, 2011, which also included comments from the government. However, it should be noted that despite numerous reports outlining the chronology of the events and their causes, much remains to be done.
The second anniversary of the Osh events not only marks a day of remembrance but also serves as source of great tension in the country. Kyrgyzstan’s southern regions are becoming zones of increased danger and concern. In order to ensure stability, the government has deployed additional police to provide security and peace in the south. Numerous roundtables and government meetings were organized in the months leading up to the anniversary and MPs are voicing their concerns over perpetrators who still have not been punished.
There is also great concern over Osh and its relations with Bishkek. In March 2012, the Osh Mayor and controversial political figure Melis Myrzakmatov emerged as the winner of the city council elections over President Atambayev’s Social Democrats and Prime Minister Omurbek Babanov’s Respublika party. The Osh mayor does not only distrust the central government but also presents himself as the “sole defender of the South.” Myrzakmatov is guaranteeing to keep the status quo of both ethnicities (Kyrgyz and Uzbek) in return for his sole rule of the city.
It should be noted that the June events in 2010 were closely linked to Kyrgyzstan’s second revolution which had taken place in April that year. Kyrgyzstan’s second president, Kurmanbek Bakiev, fled abroad seeking political asylum in Belarus. On May 24, 2012, Prosecutor-General Aida Salyanova stated that Kyrgyzstan will not secure the extradition of ex-President Bakiev while Aleksandr Lukashenko remains president of Belarus, despite numerous charges against Bakiev.
As the country prepares to commemorate the second anniversary of the June events, numerous issues still need to be addressed. In any country where an inter-ethnic clash arises, both the government and representatives from civil society organizations should work together to facilitate consolidation and reconciliation processes, the absence of which could lead to more inter-ethnic tensions in the near future.
Since the June events, there has conversely been a visible rise in nationalistic activity from both sides. Distrust between the two communities in the south is evident and necessary measures need to be taken to eliminate this suspicion and create a platform for dialogue, cooperation, and the promotion of peace and stability.
According to a sociological survey conducted by the Institute of Regional Research in Osh and Jalalabad regions, over 73 percent of the respondents indicated that the region is stable, whereas 14.8 percent indicated concern and the presence of open conflict in the south. The government should work to promote an understanding of the June events by openly sharing information on the causes, findings, and implementation of recommendations from both international and local organizations.
This step will not only open a country-wide dialogue among the representatives of different ethnicities but also help establishing the necessary preconditions for peace and stability in Kyrgyzstan.
Taking into account that interethnic clashes have taken place twice before, it is vital for Kyrgyzstan to allow independent and comprehensive analysis and evaluation to understand the roots of the problems and ensure that future attempts to provoke interethnic conflict do not take place.
Despite the creation of two official documents on the concept of ethnic politics, neither has been implemented by the government. Furthermore, the government has yet to provide a comprehensive legal evaluation of the June events and guarantee justice for the victims and their families by punishing the perpetrators.
(This article was first published in the Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst (www.cacianalyst.org), a biweekly publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program Joint Center.)