Plight of missing in Kyrgyzstan renewing tensions: Red Cross

15th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

The international Red Cross warned Thursday that the question of missing people has renewed tensions in southern Kyrgyzstan, the scene of deadly inter-ethnic riots last month.

"The issue of missing people is a source of increased tension," said Nadine Bague, the deputy head of operations for Eastern Europe and Central Asia for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

"Amid rumours of hostage-taking, clarifying the fate of those who have disappeared is not only of the utmost importance for the families concerned but can also help defuse tensions," she said.

The agency said it was focusing on obtaining access to detainees, "in particular those arrested in connection with the violence, and to help families to find out what happened to their loved ones who went missing."

The ICRC's statement emerged a day after non-governmental group Human Rights Watch accused Kyrgyzstan of detaining and torturing ethnic Uzbeks suspected of involvement in the riots.

HRW said Kyrgyzstan's Uzbek minority was being disproportionally targeted in the probe into the clashes between Kyrgyz and Uzbek groups which officials say may have left up to 2,000 dead.

In the southern region of Osh, Uzbek neighbourhoods have been prey to daily raids by armed groups dressed in camouflage, HRW cited witnesses as saying, describing the detentions as "unsanctioned" and "arbitrary".

Relatives of the men abducted in raids have gone days without news of those missing and have been asked to pay police bribes for their return in some cases, HRW claimed.

Bague warned that "tensions do not disappear from one day to the next.

"There is still deep mistrust between communities."

The ICRC also appealed for 26.93 million francs (20.1 million euros, 25.6 million dollars) in additional funds to cover relief efforts in the region following the deadly clashes.

© 2010 AFP

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