Kyrgyzstan Asks European Security Body for Help

Kyrgyzstan Asks European Security Body for Help
# 25 June 2010 01:28 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. Kyrgyzstan’s interim government, which has struggled to control ethnic violence and even apparently its own police and military, has asked the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to send in an international police force, akin to those deployed in the former Yugoslavia, APA reports quoting The New York Times.
This is the fourth plea for international help from the weak and severely destabilized government, which failed to intervene to halt ethnic rioting in the south of the country that killed thousands of people, mostly ethnic Uzbeks, and touched off a refugee crisis.
The O.S.C.E., a group that unites Western European and former Eastern bloc nations, will consider the request at a council of representatives of its dozens of member states on July 1, Andrew Tesoriere, the group’s ambassador in Kyrgyzstan, said in an interview. An advance team arrived in Bishkek, the capital, on Thursday, he said.
Even if approved, police teams would not arrive until the middle of next month, he said. It was unclear how many international police officers would come in.
Kyrgyzstan twice asked Russia to send peacekeepers but withdrew the request after Russia’s president, Dmitri A. Medvedev, declined.It had then appealed to the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a security grouping of former Soviet states, which had also declined to act.
“The Kyrgyz authorities have requested in writing some form of support for the restoration of public order,” Mr. Tesoriere said. “Whether the O.S.C.E. responds is the right and prerogative of its 56 member states.”
A spokesman for the interim government said Kyrgyz authorities had discussed an outside police presence with the O.S.C.E. but said he could not confirm a request for a deployment had been made.
Any international police force would include senior law enforcement officers from Western European and former Soviet countries, Mr. Tesoriere said, and would not perform peacekeeping functions such as manning checkpoints separating Uzbek and Kyrgyz neighborhoods. He said, though, that it could be modeled on the group’s work in the former Yugoslavia.
Ethnic Uzbeks in the south have clamored for international intervention. Many Uzbeks said they were attacked in their neighborhoods not only by civilian mobs, but also by the Kyrgyz military and police officers riding armored personnel carriers and firing automatic weapons.
Members of the Kyrgyz interim government denied that soldiers were involved and blamed the president ousted in April, Kurmanbek S. Bakiyev, for fomenting an ethnic massacre. He has denied the accusations.
Kyrgyz authorities have issued a wide variety of explanations of the exact origins of the violence and on Thursday publicized a new version in a statement by the National Security Service, the successor agency to the K.G.B. in Kyrgyzstan. It said the family of Mr. Bakiyev had colluded with Islamic radicals including the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, a group with ties to the Afghan Taliban.
The statement said groups of sharpshooters opened “massive precision fire” during the fighting and then “quickly and operationally hid themselves,” only to reappear in other areas to shoot at civilians. It said Islamic radicals had gathered in Uzbek neighborhoods and villages.
Most of the victims suffered gunshot wounds, which has raised questions about how so many firearms were available during the rioting.
Earlier, a law enforcement commander in the south had blamed Tajik mercenaries. Kyrgyz authorities have said hundreds of rifles were stolen from police or military arsenals.
Ominously, given the ongoing tensions between Uzbeks and the Kyrgyz military and police, the security service statement said ethnic Uzbek community leaders “deserved special note,” as they had been discussing autonomy and greater political representation with the interim government before the uprising.
“In realizing their political demands they wound up connected with terrorists and pro-Bakiyev forces,” the statement said, though it offered no corroborating proof.
On Thursday, the Committee to Protect Journalists, based in New York, issued a statement saying police in the south had detained two reporters working in the south of the country, in the city of Jalal-Abad.
“Journalists have told C.P.J. that ethnic Uzbek journalists are being targeted for retaliation on the basis of their ethnicity and that Kyrgyz authorities are unable to provide adequate protection,” the statement said.
While the violence has been confined to the south, clearly concerns of further unrest remain. On Thursday, a small airplane buzzed over Bishkek dropping leaflets warning of “provocateurs” inciting unrest in the capital and urging calm amid different ethnic groups.
The violence has severely destabilized Kyrgyzstan, which is home to an American military base helping supply the NATO force in Afghanistan, as well as a Russian base.