In Kyrgyzstan's parliament, a deputy from the nationalist Ata-Jurt faction alleges that a new book – that only she has seen – claims Kyrgyz massacred Uzbeks in last summer’s ethnic violence. Her story, as these things generally are, is hard to follow. In widely reported comments from April 19,Jyldyz Joldosheva rants against the publication of The Hour of the Jackal, by “rich Uzbek nationalists.”More ...
The US is ready to "support and assist in that effort", Clinton added while meeting President Islam Karimov on Thursday during a visit to the ex-Soviet state that lasted only a few hours.
"I urged him to demonstrate his commitment through a series of steps, to ensure that human rights and fundamental freedoms are truly protected in this country," Clinton told NGO leaders at a meeting, apress statement said.
"I am well aware of the hardship that many of you experience because of the work that you do," she said.
Uzbekistan has rejected the accusations of mass human rights violations, notably the regime's systematic stifling of all form of opposition, which are regularly voiced by NGOs.
Clinton said she touched on restrictions on religious freedom, torture, and child labour.
"We raise these issues in all our interactions with the government and will continue to make improvement of human rights in Uzbekistan an integral part of expanding our bilateral relationship."
In an annual report published in January, US-based Human Rights Watch said the Uzbek government's human rights record remained "atrocious."
Clinton during her visit also signed a broad bilateral science and technology cooperation agreement with Uzbekistan's First Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Azimov.
-- the situation in Afghanistan greatly worries him; the Taliban should never be allowed to become a coalition partner in the Afghan government;
-- Iran cannot be allowed to become a nuclear state, but the United States needs to talk directly with Tehran, and he is willing to be helpful;
-- Kazakhstan will never again be “colonized,” but has excellent relations with Russia and China
-- the West has underestimated the depth of Russia’s wounded pride, but he is willing to be helpful if the Obama administration has “a wise response” to Russia. END SUMMARY.More ...
All 56 OSCE members, from across the northern hemispere are to discuss ways of mutually improving security through fighting terrorism and organised crime, preventing conflicts and promoting democracy and human rights.More ...
We urge the United Nations Security Council to take immediate steps to address the ongoing crisis in Kyrgyzstan. With a death toll likely to reach far higher than the official count of 200 and an estimated 400,000 displaced in Kyrgyzstan and across the border in Uzbekistan, the situation poses a significant threat to international peace and security. The Kyrgyz authorities have primary responsibility for halting the violence and resolving this crisis, but reports from the ground provide ample evidence that the government is unable to protect those in need, and Kyrgyz authorities have already acknowledged that they need substantial assistance. More ...
"We need to find 500 b—ds…and keep [the country] in a constant mess," said a voice that government officials here say was that of Maksim Bakiyev, the 32-year-old son of the ousted president. "Somebody needs to kick up a fuss."More ...
It is an ominous sign that a society which had undertaken impressive reforms aimed at creating the region's first parliamentary democracy is now teetering on the brink of outright civil war and state failure.More ...
Three days of pogroms have led to serious humanitarian disaster in the isolated conflict zone - the population still has limited access to telephony, electricity and food products after several nights of shooting and looting. There was a threat that the conflict could involve other regions of the Southern Kyrgyzstan, including Jalal-Abad (the former president Bakiyev's homeland), which is close to Osh, the place of initial unrest.More ...
Danish journalist Michael Andersen: I am ashamed that European media and politicians do not understand the tragedy in Kyrgyzstan
This small country of 5.5 million people had a relatively developed civil society and free press. But hopes were dashed under Askar Akayev, a president accused by the opposition of nepotism, corruption and growing authoritarianism.More ...
These questions have been asked over and over again in regards to short episodes of violence in Central Asia since 1986, starting with the Almaty “Kunaev” riots. Other examples of violent riots/pogroms include the May 1989 attacks on Armenians in Turkmenistan, the 1989 Uzbek pogroms against Meskhets in the Ferghana valley, summer 1989 fighting between Tajiks and Kyrgyz in Isfara, the February 1990 riots in Dushanbe that left 50 dead (half of them non-Tajiks – including Slavs), summer 1990 in Osh as Uzbeks and Kyrgyz killed each other, May-September 1992 in the collective farms of the Vakhsh valley, etc….More ...
The official death toll reached 117, with 1,500 hurt, the health ministry announced this morning. Thousands have already fled the country.
Accounts from international aid agencies and other witnesses suggest the real toll could be much higher: the Red Cross has said its delegates witnessed about 100 bodies being buried in one cemetery.
An ethnic Uzbek woman at the border of Uzbekistan after fleeing the riots in southern Kyrgyzstan. Photograph: AFP/Getty ImagesMore ...
New fires raged Monday across Osh — the second-largest city that’s on the border with Uzbekistan, and where food and water were becoming scarce. Armed looters smashed stores, stealing anything from televisions to food.
No police could be seen on the streets, though authorities insisted some of the improvised checkpoints dotted around the city of 250,000 were theirs.
Cars stolen from ethnic Uzbeks raced around the city, most crowded with young Kyrgyz wielding sharpened sticks, axes and metal rods.
In some parts of Osh, Kyrgyz residents protected homes housing both Kyrgyz and Uzbek.
In another city beset by violence, Jalal-Abad, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) away, armed Kyrgyz amassed at the central square. Their stated goal was to travel to the nearby Uzbek settlement of Suzak in search of an Uzbek community leader they blame for starting the trouble.
The Uzbek border is just 3 miles (5 kilometers) from Osh. Uzbek refugees were mostly elderly people, women and children, with younger men staying behind to defend their property. Some were fired on as they fled.
Internet news stories seem to have the news only as it gets edited and regurgitated from the forum and twitter feeds, and who knows how reliable any of those is? Without people on the ground or a government in power, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to describe the situation, let alone hope for a quick and merciful end to the violence.
The military presence is clearly not enough, as a military patrol in Jalalabad was almost hi-jacked by gangs of Kyrgyz men. Even though the military has been given permission (or shall I say ordered?) to fire on sight any and all violent looters, there are allegations that the military refuses to fire on fellow Kyrgyz men. It doesn’t take much more than this to make people start using the G-word.
But there may yet be a reckoning for some of those responsible, as “The commandant of Jalalabad Kubatbek Baibolov said that the authorities managed to apprehend one of the suspects alleged to have organized and carried out the mass ethnic riots in Osh.” (another link to that story, also Russian and one more from the BBC in Russian) The suspect will be charged also with attempting to overthrow the government, suggesting some connection with the government’s accusations that Bakiev & Co. are behind the riots. Perhaps even a Bakiev brother?
“You could say that it is well-known political figure.”
Ethnic Uzbeks gather near the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border in southern Kyrgyzstan, trying to seek refuge from mobs of Kyrgyz men. Photograph: D Dalton Bennett/APMore ...
A key factor in the clashes between "the political elite of Kyrgyzstan" and leaders of the ethnic Uzbek population in the south is the status of the Uzbek language, the independent online Uzbek news service ferghana.ru reported. On June 1, two weeks after clashes broke out in Jalalal-Abad, members of the Uzbek national center in Osh distributed an appeal protesting what they termed "the violation of the rights of Uzbeks on the use of their native language."
The authors of the appeal say there are about one million ethnic Uzbeks in Kyrgyzstan, which they consider their "historic homeland." The Uzbeks complained that there was a lack of television broadcasting on the state channels KTR and ElTR in their native language. The draft constitution, the subject of a referendum to be held June 27, does not mention that Uzbek language, says ferghana.ru.
Efforts have been made to poll citizens on their attitude toward multilingualism in Kyrgyzstan but observers say that various media in different languages will tend to skew the results of such polls, making them untrustworthy. Uzbeks have also complained of a lack of representation in local governing bodies. Local politicians don't believe lack of minority representation is a problem, but they may not be acknowleding the growth of the Uzbek population, say observers.
Vakhidjan Ergashev, a businessman and public figure in Jalal-Abad, says:
The authorities simply try not to publicize the real figures of the growth of the Uzbek language. Why, for example, are figures missing on the ethnic breakdown of the population by region? In fact, such an analysis would immediately highlight places densely populated with Uzbeks, whose numbers in reality are growing faster than they officially appear on paper.
Asylbek Keshikbayev, an expert on state and regional development says as the native Kyrgyz-language population migrates from the region, ethnic Uzbeks or refugees have moved in. Independent journalist Aleksandr Kulinsky says Kyrgyzstan has not done anything since the 1990s to integrate the Uzbeks into the ruling structures of the country, and now faces the reality that the Uzbek population is significantly larger than the Kyrgyz in the south, ferghana.ru reported. Some observers have called the situation in the south of Kyrgyzstan "a second Kosovo," as the minority population grows, and feels its language issues are unresolved.
Human rights activists from the Foundation for International Tolerance have conducted meetings recently in the region and called for removing the line indicating "nationality," or ethnicity from the Kyrgyz passport in order to reduce discrimination.
In a separate development, Uzbek border guards have cut off Arnasai, a village near Kazakhstan's southern border with Uzbekistan which became an exclave surrounded by Uzbek territory after delimitation of the Kazakh-Uzbek border some years ago, Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe reported. Some families are reportedly running out of drinking water due to the blockade, imposed June 7, Arnasai village governor Basymbek Kalzhigitov told journalists. Kazakh officials are currently in talks on the situation with Uzbek counterparts, who have not explained their actions.
Tatiana Kotova, of the ACT Central Asia Forum, speaking from the capital Bishkek, said that fighting between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks could easily escalate.More ...
Interim leader Roza Otunbaeva told reporters today she has sent a letter to the Russian government asking Moscow to help resolve the ongoing conflict in Osh, and that she welcomed help from other countries. More ...
The base is considered a crucial transit center for sending troops and supplies in and out of Afghanistan. U.S. access was threatened this spring when street protests brought down the government and forced the president to flee.
Whitman and other U.S. military officials said Tuesday that transit flights continue at the base. But the spokesman also said that in an effort to conserve fuel, tanker planes are no longer stopping at Manas and are going elsewhere to refuel.
New York-based lawyer Scott Horton, asserts that, if the precise same fuels contract had involved a U.S. commercial entity, it would be subject to investigation by the U.S. Justice Department.
Alexander Cooley, a Columbia University professor who has studied the Manas base as part of a look at numerous U.S. bases around the world, called the fuel scandal a problem both of local Kyrgyz politics and U.S. national security. He said that Kyrgyz politicians are certain to seize on the military base as an issue in October presidential elections. If the fuel scandal isn't resolved by then -- meaning if the U.S. hasn't fessed up -- Cooley suggested that the base could be in trouble.
Sam Patten, who watches Eurasia for Freedom House, a New York-based NGO, also raised the issue of the Embassy failing to engage with the opposition, but went further and argued that the State Department had ultimately failed to observe U.S. law obligating it to encourage democracy. Patten asserted that the State Department needs to watch more closely, because uprisings are bound to spread regionally. "The question in Uzbekistan isn't if revolution will happen, but when it will happen," Patten told the committee.
Oil and Glory
Roza Otunbayeva said Mr Bakiyev had "blood on his hands" and had missed his chance to leave the country.
Mr Bakiyev, currently in the south of the country, had said he was willing to resign if his safety was guaranteed.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has warned Kyrgyzstan is "on the brink of civil war".
Leaders of the opposition said they had taken over key installations in Bishkek and were forming a new government. President Kurmanbek Bakiyev flew to Osh, a regional city where he enjoys support, according to news reports. His plans were uncertain, as was his ability to command the country's security forces and reassert his authority.
The death toll of about 40 was likely to rise, health officials in Bishkek said, noting that hundreds of protesters were injured in the violence.More ...
JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty ImagesMore ...
Please find some relevant documents and audio files below:
© Carson.WiensMore ...
Question:Good morning, Congressman Hastings. It is our pleasure to have you here at VOA. My question is: you supported Kazakhstan’s bid to chair the OSCE back in 2007. Please tell us the main reason for your support.
Co-Chairman Hastings:That’s a very good question and, I had been involved at that time in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe for almost 12 years and including at some point a few years back becoming the president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE. I worked with the Central Asian countries pretty much six or seven years after they gained their independence in the early ‘90s until today.More ...
Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov with Hillary Clinton: Photo by US State Department.More ...
OSCE Chairman n Office Kanat Saudabaev says his government will deepen the OSCE's humanitarian engagement in Afghanistan
February 02, 2010More ...
Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb speaks at an OSCE council in Helsinki.
Stubb, who chaired the organization in 2008, spoke to RFE/RL correspondent Robert Coalson about the challenges the OSCE will face in 2010.More ...
But some observers think Gul’s trip -- the first to Bishkek by a Turkish president in nine years -- is more than a bilateral visit and might be an important geopolitical gambit in which Gul is doing the West’s bidding. More ...
Police in Uzbekistan exchanged gunfire with a group of armed men in the eastern town of Khanabad and an explosion was heard, witnesses have said.More ...
Four years after closing down a United States military airbase, Uzbekistan has given NATO access to transit facilities at Navoi airport. Although it has done so indirectly, through a deal with South Korea, NBCentralAsia analysts say the Uzbek leadership is deliberately .More ...
“We have not resigned ourselves to this being the last word,” Mr. Gates said at a meeting here of NATO defense ministers to discuss the need for more combat forces and reconstruction teams in Afghanistan.
The base, in Manas, plays a central role for NATO’s Afghan mission. It provides transit facilities for thousands of personnel and 500 tons of cargo each month, and it is used by the tanker aircraft that refuel fighter planes on missions over Afghanistan. The Obama administration has called the war there a high priority, announcing this week that an additional 17,000 American troops would be sent in the coming months. The loss of the base is seen as a serious challenge.
Mr. Gates said the United States remained prepared to discuss with Kyrgyzstan whether larger fees were warranted for use of the base, but he cautioned, “We are not going to be ridiculous about it.”
“Manas is important,” he said, “but it is not irreplaceable.”
He said that American negotiators already were deep into discussions with “a number of different countries,” including Russia, about alternatives to the logistics hub in Kyrgyzstan.
It remained unclear how quickly the United States would have to find an alternative. President Kurmanbek Bakiyev of Kyrgyzstan was expected to send Washington an official notice, but American officials said they still did not know when it would be received or when the six-month countdown would start. Mr. Bakiyev signed the legislation on Friday.
The bill in Parliament was approved by 78 of the 81 lawmakers present, with two voting against it and one abstaining.
The Kyrgyz government in Bishkek had longstanding complaints about the base and had asked for more cash compensation. Tensions were exacerbated in 2006 when an American serviceman fatally shot a Kyrgyz truck driver.
Mr. Bakiyev announced the move to close the base at a news conference with President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia, who this month promised to shore up Kyrgyzstan’s struggling economy with about $2.15 billion in loans and grants. Moscow has long complained about the continued American military presence in Central Asia, and many in Washington concluded that Russia had encouraged the move in an attempt to assert its dominance in the region.
Although Russian and Kyrgyz officials say there was no connection between the Kremlin’s financial aid and efforts to kick out the Americans, senior American officials have complained that the Russians are trying to have it both ways — with the Kremlin expressing a desire to support the international military mission in Afghanistan while pressing the Kyrgyz government to end American access to its air base.
In public comments as part of the vote, Kyrgyz lawmakers portrayed the action as the culmination of years of complaints and said the American presence in Central Asia had outlasted its usefulness.
“It is impossible to make people of Afghanistan live by standards which are brought in from abroad,” said Kabai Karabhekov, a member of Parliament. “One has to give an opportunity to Afghan people to build their country themselves.”
The shadow of Russian actions in Central Asia and Central Europe fell over the session of NATO ministers here, as Mr. Gates also was pressed on whether the Obama administration intended to move forward with a plan for missile defenses in Europe that had been a priority of the Bush administration’s foreign policy and that had brought threats of military retaliation from Russia.
Mr. Gates, in his first overseas trip since he began serving the new president, said the missile defense bases planned in Poland and the Czech Republic would proceed if the technology proved it could work and was affordable.
Neither of those two caveats were part of the Bush administration’s language when discussing requirements for the bases.
But Mr. Gates also made it clear that the Obama administration had not yet met on the issue of missile defense policy, and that no decisions had been made on how to proceed.
“The administration has not yet reviewed where it is on a whole range of issues,” Mr. Gates said, including the missile defense program and how to manage that within the relationship with Russia.
Mr. Gates said the radar proposed for the Czech Republic and the 10 interceptor missiles for Poland were to counter a potential threat from Iran, and he reiterated that the United States would work with NATO and wanted Russia as a partner in the effort.
To reassure his hosts here, Mr. Gates said that a series of new bilateral military cooperation efforts with Poland were proceeding even as the prospects for the missile defense site on Polish territory remained uncertain.
Also Thursday, NATO officials confirmed that Germany had pledged 600 more soldiers to the mission in Afghanistan.
“We welcome the commitment of additional German forces for the upcoming Afghan national elections,” said Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary. “For those contests to be credible, voter turnout must be robust and representative, and improving the security situation is the key to making that happen.”
Italy announced this week that it would add 500 troops to the alliance mission in Afghanistan by April.
Source: New York Times
That's because the air base at Manas, whose lease to the U.S. forces came closer to ending with Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev signing off on a parliamentary bill calling for their eviction, has long served as a key staging post for the alliance's military operations in Afghanistan.
Bakiev's signature is the final step before Kyrgyz authorities issue a notice that will give the United States 180 days to vacate the facility, used as a transit point for 15,000 troops and some 500 tons of cargo each month to and from Afghanistan.
Now, defense ministers from NATO countries meeting for a second day in Krakow, Poland, will have to address another setback: The government in Pakistan's Punjab Province has cancelled a private deal on a new supply terminal for overland NATO deliveries into Afghanistan from the port city of Karachi. They say the deal was cancelled because of security concerns.
The main land route into landlocked Afghanistan passes through Pakistan's lawless Khyber tribal region and another land crossing through the southwest province of Baluchistan. Regional insurgency is rife in those areas and pro-Taliban militants have been focusing attacks on bridges, terminals, and even convoys of NATO supply trucks.
With the pressure growing on NATO's logistical support, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates confirmed at the NATO gathering in Krakow that Washington is now in talks with several other countries about alternative supply routes that would replace Manas.
Still, Gates suggested that talks on the future of the base are still open and that there could be negotiations with Bishkek about the amount of money paid for maintaining a U.S. presence at Manas.
He told reporters in Krakow on February 19 that the Pentagon is looking to see if there is justification for Bishkek to receive a larger payment. But he said Washington was "not going to be ridiculous about it."
Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are possible alternatives. U.S. Rear Admiral Mark Harnitchek has been in Dushanbe for talks with Tajik Foreign Minister Hamrokhon Zarifi on the issue.
Harnitchek said in Dushanbe on February 19 that Tajikistan has agreed in principle to the use of its railways and roads for the transit of "nonlethal" military supplies into Afghanistan:
"Clearly any nation that shares a border with Afghanistan is important, and because the distance to our bases in Afghanistan is likely the shortest from Tajikistan, so by extension, Tajikistan is very important," Harnitchek said.
Harnitchek also said Uzbekistan has agreed to the transit of cargo and that the Pentagon plans to send 50 to 200 cargo containers each week from Uzbekistan to Tajikistan and then by land into Afghanistan.
But U.S. officials are emphasizing that no formal agreement has been signed yet.
Uzbekistan's Foreign Ministry has declined to comment on whether it had approved the transit of NATO supplies across its territory. General David Petraeus, the head of the U.S. military's Central Command, visited Uzbekistan on February 17 in what appears to have been an attempt to seek the use of the country as a transit route for supplies in Afghanistan.
Moscow Give And Take
Kyrgyz President Bakiev announced the pending closure of Manas earlier this month, complaining the United States was not paying enough rent for the base. His announcement came shortly after he secured $2.15 billion in aid and loans from Russia during a visit to Moscow.
That has led some observers to conclude that the Kremlin has had a hand in instigating the closure of Manas. But Russia also has offered the use of its railroad network for the overland transport of nonlethal military supplies into Afghanistan.
Patrick Moon, the assistant U.S. secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs, said in Helsinki this week that the route would carry cargo from Latvia through Russia and Kazakhstan to Uzbekistan -- and eventually on to Afghanistan. He said the first trains could carry that cargo before the end of February.
Meanwhile, on the sidelines of NATO defense ministers' meeting in Krakow, Gates warned that Moscow is trying to "have it both ways" by offering help in Afghanistan and undermining U.S. efforts there at the same time.
Gates also has sought to downplay the significance of Manas, saying that it is import but not irreplaceable.
Analysts see those remarks, and moves by the Pentagon to seek alternative supply routes, as a sign that price negotiations are still under way between Washington and Bishkek on the use of Manas.
It is worth saying that on February 9 the parliament committee for defense, security, law and judicial order reform already approved the withdrawal of airbase from the territory of the republic. Now, the session of the committee for constitutional law, state structure, legislation and human rights will consider this topic on February 17, 2009 at 2pm.
The Kyrgyz Republic draft Law “On denunciation of response note of Kyrgyz Republic foreign affairs ministry to the note # 542, issued by the Embassy of the United States of America, dated December 4, 2001, and together forming the Agreement between the government of Kyrgyz Republic and the government of the United States of America” was addressed to the parliament by the government of Kyrgyzstan on February 4th.
“Ferghana.ru” was reporting earlier that the decision of Kyrgyzstan’s officials to end the activity of anti-terrorist coalition military base was announced by the President of the country, Kurmanbek Bakiev, at the press-conference in Moscow on February 3, 2009.
It is worth to remind that US airbase was launched in Kyrgyzstan on December 2001, based on UN mandate, supporting “Enduring freedom” anti-terrorist operation in Afghanistan, conducted by of coalition forces. Today, there are more than one thousand US soldiers as well as military transport aircrafts and fuel servicing planes, located at the airbase.
Interview with Arkadiy Dubnov: «The countries, lacking the culture of discussion, are not able to cooperate»
Again, this report is available in Russian and can be ordered.