Ethnic violence erupts in Kyrgyzstan

Intense fighting ended in tragedy in the Central Asian nation of Kyrgysztan as many endure continued violence between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks. The instability between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in Osh and other southern cities has prompted the military to instate a rigid curfew to ensure peace, however fragile it may be.

Kyrgyzstan is being urged to take action to end the violence. A prominent goal for Kyrgyzstan is to have displaced persons safely return to secure homes. This issue comes two months after a political uprising in Kyrgyzstan where President Bakiyev was overthrown by the former Foreign Minister Roza Otunbayeva in April 2010.

Timothy Donais, global studies professor at Wilfrid Laurier University, explained, “It’s hard to know whether this is the beginning of something much bigger or whether this is just an episodic spasm of violence that will eventually die down.”

At the moment, the international community is not anxious to become involved. Donais noted, “It may be a reflectio n of peacekeeping fatigue that there are not a lot of countries lining up to send peacekeepers into Kyrgyzstan.”

As Donais explained, there is speculation that Bakiyev, who was overthrown in April, has a stronghold in the South. His allies and those involved in the drug trade may have created the violence with the intention of destabilizing the government.

Unlike the genocide in Darfur, the issue in Kyrgyzstan does not entirely stem from a long historical conflict between the two ethnic groups.

The issue in Kyrgyzstan has mainly revolved around the weak interim government. However, echoes of the old Soviet Empire have paid their dues. Alarmism is rampant as many are wary of the ties the interim government has with Russia.

On the topic of peacebuilding, Donais explained that in this situation, it would be difficult to decide where to focus efforts if there were to be an intervention by foreign nations.

Donais, an expert in post-conflict peacebuilding, is currently on a research project involving Afghanistan. “There are echoes in Kyrgyzstan of a lot of the same things that are happening in Afghanistan… Afghanistan is a much bigger, complicated version of the same thing. For the international community it’s the same question: where do you start?”

“Do you try to promote reconciliation between the different ethnic groups, do you try to strengthen the government, do you focus on law and order and dealing with the corruption, all of these things seem to be part of what’s going on in this particular conflict,” Donais concluded.