Asia-Pacific

Uzbeks 'behind ethnic clashes in southern Kyrgyzstan'

A man by the ruins of his house destroyed in ethnic violence in Osh (1 July 2010)
Image caption Thousands of homes were destroyed in the violence in Osh in June 2010

An official investigation in Kyrgyzstan into deadly ethnic clashes last year has said local Uzbek leaders were to blame.

Commission head Abdygany Erkebayev said several local Uzbek politicians had tried to instigate violence.

He said that allies of ousted president Kurmanbek Bakiyev also played a part.

More than 400 people died in the violence that erupted in southern Kyrgyzstan in June 2010, three months after Mr Bakiyev was overthrown.

Mr Erkebayev said 426 deaths had been confirmed, of which 276 were Uzbeks and 105 were Kyrgyz.

Tens of thousands of people - mostly Uzbeks - were forced to flee their homes.

'Agitating'

Speaking in the capital, Bishkek, Mr Erkebayev said: "The tragic events were provoked not by the Uzbek or the Kyrgyz people, but by people with extremist views."

He said the April uprising that ousted Mr Bakiyev had led to calls from the Uzbek community for more political representation, and singled out one prominent Uzbek businessman for blame.

"He travelled to areas of southern Kyrgyzstan densely populated by Uzbeks, agitating and organising rallies," he said.

But he also accused allies of the ousted president - whose support base was in the south - of orchestrating clashes.

"Bakiyev's circle bankrolled the militants and several relatives of the ex-president Bakiyev also took up arms to participate in those events," he said.

Human rights groups have, in the past, accused the authorities of singling out Uzbeks for blame.

They have also criticised them for detaining large numbers of Uzbek men in the wake of the crisis.

Erica Marat of the Caucasus-Central Asia Institute at Johns Hopkins University in the US told the BBC that the report reflected mainstream Kyrgyz sentiment, and failed to answer key questions about what sparked the violence.

The findings showed that the government was not ready to "provide an honest investigation of what happened in June", she said.