Ethnic Tensions Linger In Kyrgyzstan

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NEW YORK, Aug. 12 (UPI) — An ethnic Uzbek accused of having ties to ethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan in 2010 died after he was allegedly tortured by police, Human Rights Watch said.

A Kyrgyz investigation, looking into ethnic violence that gripped parts of southern Kyrgyzstan after an April 2010 coup led President Kurmanbek Bakiyev to flee the country, blamed Uzbek leaders and Bakiyev backers for the conflict.

At least 400 people were killed during June 2010 violence between Kyrgyz and ethnic Uzbeks in the southern regions of Osh and Jalal Abad.

Human Rights Watch reported that Osmonjon Khalmurzaev, a Russian citizen, died Wednesday, two days after he was arrested and later released in connection to the June 10 violence.

Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch, in a statement said police tried to get $6,000 from him for his release, adding Kyrgyz officials should conduct an investigation into the use of torture.

“Khalmurzaev’s torture in police custody and his subsequent death are harrowing examples of the extent of corruption and impunity in Kyrgyzstan’s law enforcement,” he said.

Human Rights Watch in March said refusal by Kyrgyz authorities to investigate claims of torture is a “serious violation” of law.

A separate inquiry investigating the violence found both Kyrgyz and Uzbeks were responsible for atrocities committed in southern Kyrgyzstan after the coup.

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