Amnesty calls on Kyrgyzstan to protect Uzbek minority

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Amnesty International on Sunday called on Kyrgyzstan to protect its ethnic Uzbek minority from racial violence and urged the country's neighbours to keep their borders open to refugees.

"Amnesty International urges the Kyrgyzstani interim government... to ensure adequate protection for all Kyrgyzstani citizens and in particular those of Uzbek origin who have been targeted during the violence," it said in a press release.

At least 82 people have been killed and over 1,000 wounded as the Kyrgyz government has so far failed to stem three days of brutal clashes between ethnic Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in the south of the Central Asian state.

"Law enforcement is failing to effectively provide human security to its population, in particular to the Uzbek community," said Maisy Weicherding, an expert with the rights' watchdog.

Amnesty also urged Uzbekistan to keep open its border with Kyrgyzstan to thousand of ethnic Uzbek refugees fleeing the violence, which Kyrgyz interim leader Roza Otunbayeva admitted had spiraled "out of control".

"With thousands of people on the move seeking safety, the authorities... of Uzbekistan in particular must keep their borders open and allow entry to all those fleeing the escalating violence in Kyrgyzstan," Weicherding said.

Kyrgyzstan's provisional government has struggled to impose order in the ex-Soviet state since seizing control during deadly riots that ousted President Kurmanbek Bakiyev in April.

© 2010 AFP

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