Staunton, June 27 – Birlik, the leading opposition party in Uzbekistan, says that the violation of the rights of ethnic Uzbeks in Kyrgyzstan is so serious that the international community must back the formation of an Uzbek autonomous republic within Kyrgyzstan and allow that entity to develop and maintain its own armed forces.
In a statement issued at the end of last week, Birlik, whose exiled later Abdurahim Po’lat is widely known among human rights groups, said that the Uzbek party was deeply grieved by “the bloody events in the south of Kyrgyzstan” and wished to express its “sincere sympathies” to those who had suffered losses (www.centrasia.ru/news.php?st=1277451900).
The “disorders” in Kyrgyzstan, the Birlik declaration continues, led to “pitiless” attacks on Uzbeks by “Kyrgyz extremists” and thereby have contributed to “a breakdown in the complex interrelationship between the two peoples who belong to a single Turkic ethnos,” a development that is not promising for the future.
According to Birlik, the violence was not organized from outside. Instead, the Uzbek party suggested, the Provisional Government of Kyrgyzstan bore responsibility for “the losses of thousands of Uzbeks and Kyrgyz,” and its members should be brought to trial where “they completely deserve the highest measure of punishment.”
Because the border between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan was drawn by Moscow “according to principles which do not have any relationship to the ethnic composition of this part of the Fergana valley, the latest events,” Birlik argues, “cannot be considered as a purely internal affair of Kyrgyzstan.”
The Birlik declaration says that in the longer term, the resolution of “many of the problems” of Central Asia will be achieved by “the creation of a Central Asian Union on the model of the European Union. But, as a result of the events in Kyrgyzstan, this question hardly can be taken up in the immediate future.”
Consequently, in order to deal with the current situation and prevent a repetition, the Birlik Party calls for declaring the Kyrgyz referendum held today illegitimate, transferring power in Bishkek from the Provisional Government to the existing parliament, and coming up with “a new form of state organization” for that country to “guarantee the security of Uzbeks” there.
That for would involve the creation “on the territories in which Uzbeks have historically lived [in Kyrgyzstan] of an Uzbek Autonomous Republic with the right to have its own armed forces,” Birlik suggests. And the party calls on “all Uzbeks” to support this idea and to seek to “convince” the international community that this is the only way to long-term stability.
Birlik’s proposal is unlikely to find much support either inside Kyrgyzstan or beyond. If it gained support, it would almost certainly result in the loss of Bishkek’s control over the southern portion of the country and likely presage a future change in the borders between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, something the international community would be loathe to see.
But the statement is important for two other reasons. On the one hand, it appears to reflect what many Uzbeks believe, convictions that are going to make the resolution of the problems of Kyrgyzstan far more difficult than many in the international community are prepared to acknowledge.
And on the other, this declaration, precisely because it reflects the opinions of most Uzbeks and even the Tashkent government, could win Birlik more support and even allow it to play a larger role inside Uzbekistan, yet another aspect of the spreading consequences of the bloody events in Osh.