Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

DEBATE

MH17: Punishing Putin? (part two)

Read more

DEBATE

MH17: Punishing Putin?

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Competing narratives in Malaysia Airlines disaster coverage

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Kenya : Police arrest 8 over Mombasa rampage

Read more

FOCUS

Overfishing and the global appetite for bluefin tuna: can Tokyo turn the tide?

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Too many graphic images from Gaza ?

Read more

FASHION

Who's next in Paris, an event with international ready-to-wear and fashion accessories collections

Read more

ENCORE!

Tunisia's Carthage International Festival turns 50

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

Muslims and Christians clean up Bangui, and violence spirals out of control in Algeria's Gardaia

Read more

  • Netherlands to honour MH17 victims in national day of mourning

    Read more

  • Defying UK, France to proceed with warships sale to Russia

    Read more

  • Israel hits Gaza targets despite diplomatic push for ceasefire

    Read more

  • US courts issue conflicting reports on Obamacare

    Read more

  • Video: Lebanon fears fallout from regional turmoil

    Read more

  • Widodo wins Indonesian presidential election

    Read more

  • Flight MH17 shot down ‘by mistake', US intelligence indicates

    Read more

  • US, European airlines suspend flights to Tel Aviv

    Read more

  • Australian veteran Rogers claims 16th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • France gives go-ahead to pro-Palestinian Paris rally

    Read more

  • French Jews mourn French-Israeli soldier killed in Gaza

    Read more

  • PSG punished by UEFA for abuse of disabled Chelsea fans

    Read more

  • Colombia's Rodriguez signs '€80m' contract with Real Madrid

    Read more

  • Children killed in minibus crash in eastern France

    Read more

  • A call for harmony in riot-hit ‘Little Jerusalem’ Paris suburb

    Read more

Asia-pacific

US envoy calls for safe return of refugees

Video by Luke SHRAGO

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-06-19

US envoy Robert Blake has urged Kyrgyzstan's interim government to ensure a safe return for the estimated 100,000 refugees in Uzbekistan, saying the authorities in Bishkek had pledged to probe the causes of deadly ethnic violence in the country.

REUTERS - The U.S. envoy for Central Asia urged Kyrgyzstan on Saturday to create conditions for a safe return of hundreds of thousands of refugees uprooted by last week's outburst of ethnic violence.

The clashes have killed up to 2,000 people and set off a massive wave of refugees, with 400,000 people crammed in squalid camps with little access to clean water and food on Kyrgyzstan's sun-parched border with Uzbekistan.

Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake, speaking after talks with Kyrgyz officials, said an international investigation must be held into the possible causes of the violence.

"It is important for the provisional government to establish the atmosphere of trust and security so the refugees in Uzbekistan and the internally displaced persons in Kyrgyzstan can feel confident that they can return to their homes and live in safety and harmony with their Kyrgyz neighbours," he said.

"I think clearly there was an ethnic element to the violence that took place. But the United States does not have any independent information about what happened ..."

Kyrgyzstan's tiny, under-equipped army has struggled to bring order to the south and relief organisations have been unable to reach the worst-affected areas for security reasons.

Some Kyrgyz officials have said a referendum on a new constitution, due be held on June 27, should be postponed until the situation stabilises.

The United States and Russia, both operating military air bases in the strategic Muslim nation, are concerned that continued turmoil in Kyrgyzstan could spread to other parts of Central Asia, a vast former Soviet region north of Afghanistan.

The violence erupted on June 10 with coordinated attacks by unknown individuals in balaclavas and quickly spiralled into fierce fighting between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz, witnesses said.

Mainly Uzbek households were targeted in three days of unrest, with entire neighbourhoods burned to the ground. The U.N. says an estimated 1 million people were affected.

In remarks posted on the State Department website, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Kurmanbek Bakiyev, Kyrgyzstan's president who was toppled in a revolt in April, may be to blame.

"Certainly, the ouster of President Bakiyev some months ago left behind those who were still his loyalists and very much against the provisional government," she said.

"There certainly have been allegations of instigation that have to be taken seriously."
Bakiyev, an ethnic Kyrgyz currently in exile in Belarus, has denied any involvement. The official death toll is about 190 people but the government says it is probably 10 times higher.

 

Stand-off

Interim leader Roza Otunbayeva has struggled to assert control in the shattered south where Uzbek neighbourhoods have barricaded themselves against Kyrgyz parts in a standoff.

Authorities in the devastated city of Osh said they would start tearing down the barricades as part of efforts to restore order but residents said they feared that could trigger renewed unrest before the referendum.

"Soldiers armed with automatic weapons are beginning to clear the roads but people are scared there will be another war," said Ravshan Gapirov, a human rights campaigner in Osh.

Locals say government troops joined with marauding gangs during the violence. The government has not commented on the allegations.

"Amnesty International urges the (Kyrgyz) interim government to immediately react to allegations of collusion of security forces and to send a clear signal that any human rights violations will be prosecuted," Amnesty said in a statement.

Kyrgyzstan is a patchwork of tribes and clans and Bakiyev's departure has set off a fierce fight for control over money in a nation lying on a big drug trafficking route out of Afghanistan.

There has always been rivalry between Kyrgyz people and traditionally richer Uzbeks. But observers say Bakiyev loyalists are playing on ethnic divisions to regain strength.

"Neither Uzbeks nor Kyrgyz are to blame for this," Uzbek President Islam Karimov was quoted as saying. "These disruptive actions were organised and managed from outside."


Kyrgyzstan: Who's to blame?


 

 

Date created : 2010-06-19

  • CENTRAL ASIA

    UN says 400,000 displaced by Kyrgyzstan violence

    Read more

  • CENTRAL ASIA

    Son of ousted Kyrgyz president accused of fomenting violence

    Read more

COMMENT(S)