Injustice may spark fresh Kyrgyzstan violence - Amnesty

Houses burning in Jalalabad, Kyrgyzstan - 13 June 2010 The ethnic fighting in southern Kyrgyzstan forced tens of thousands of people to flee

Failure to deliver justice for last year's killings of civilians in ethnic clashes in Kyrgyzstan could spark more violence, Amnesty International warns.

In a report released ahead of the first anniversary of the 10 June unrest, Amnesty urges Bishkek to "establish the truth about what happened".

Some 470 people died in four days of clashes between Kyrgyz and ethnic Uzbeks in the south of the country.

Hundreds of people were injured and thousands of houses destroyed.

The violence, which was mainly centred in the cities of Osh and Jalalabad, followed weeks of turmoil after the ousting of then President Kurmanbek Bakiyev in a mass uprising in the Central Asian country in April 2010.

'Excessive force'

In its Still Waiting for Justice report, the London-based human rights group urges the Kyrgyz government to punish the perpetrators of last year's violence.

"The failure to bring to justice those behind the violence could provide fertile soil for the seeds of future turmoil and future human rights violations," said Nicola Duckworth, Amnesty's Europe and Central Asia director.

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"Ethnic bias and corruption are behind the pervading impunity in Kyrgyzstan.

"The rule of law must be upheld in order to rebuild the trust between the ethnic groups and prevent future bloodshed. All crimes, including crimes against humanity, must be investigated and tried in fair proceedings," Ms Duckworth said.

The report says that 20 cases of rape and other sexual violence have been documented during the violence, but points out that the real number is believed to be much higher.

The document also accuses Kyrgyz security forces of using "excessive force" and torturing detainees in the aftermath of the violence.

Members of both communities suffered losses, but 74% of those killed were ethnic Uzbeks, Amnesty says.

Despite this, the report says that subsequent government investigations targeted mainly ethnic Uzbeks.

It says courts have handed out at least 27 life sentences, "all of them against ethnic Uzbeks".

Kyrgyz human rights activist Aziza Abdurasulova said her group, Kilim Shami, had studied many of the court cases.

"Not only victims, but those who are facing trial need justice too. The compensation process has just started and the majority of those who suffered during the violence haven't received any money," she told BBC Central Asia.

"Those who lost their homes and close relatives are angry. I think the government must make sure that justice is done for these people. Otherwise people stay angry," Ms Abdurasulova said.

Last month, an inquiry by an international panel - the Kyrgyzstan Inquiry Commission (KIC) - concluded that the co-ordinated and systematic nature of the attacks could amount to crimes against humanity if proved in court.

But Bishkek rejected the report, saying that the investigation was ethnically biased.

Kyrgyz lawmakers have recently voted to ban the head of the inquiry, Finnish politician Kimo Kiljunen, from entering Kyrgyzstan.

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