Kyrgyz violence 'crime against humanity': French official

1st July 2010, Comments 0 comments

Deadly ethnic violence in southern Kyrgyzstan last month was a crime against humanity and must be recognised as such, French ambassador for human rights Francois Zimeray told AFP Thursday.

"It's not simply a riot. We are in (the) presence of a massive crime against humanity, which deserves a re-evaluation of the level of involvement of the international community," he told AFP in an interview.

"I have to point the finger at the particular cruelty of some crimes committed, and I'm not sure that the world has realised what we were talking about," he said after a day of meetings with the Kyrgyz interim government.

Clashes between ethnic majority Kyrgyz and minority Uzbeks earlier this month in the south of the country killed at least 294 people according to the latest toll, and displaced hundreds of thousands of people.

Thousands remain homeless in the ravaged cities of Osh and Jalalabad which were at the epicentre of the violence, leading international aid agencies to warn about the need for extensive long-term foreign assistance.

Bishkek has promised an independent investigation of the violence, which witnesses have told AFP was an organised campaign of violence by mobs of ethnic Kyrgyz men against ethnic Uzbeks.

But many fear that the provisional government, which has struggled to impose order since taking power in April on the back of a bloody coup which ousted President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, will be unwilling or unable to impartially investigate the unrest.

Zimeray on Wednesday said that France joined the United States in calling for an independent investigation of the violence to complement any domestic inquiry.

"I'm really concerned about the possibility to render justice. One will not achieve any process of reconciliation if there is no justice.... But for that, one has to rely on independent, credible inquiries," he said.

Kyrgyzstan, an impoverished Central Asian state that has seen the violent ouster of its only two post-independence governments, has long been considered the most politically volatile country in the region.

© 2010 AFP

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