APPEAL OF CIVIL SOCIETY REPRESENTATIVES OF THE KYRGYZ REPUBLIC TO THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
May 3, 2021
We, the citizens and representatives of non-governmental organizations of the Kyrgyz Republic, are extremely concerned about the situation in the Batken region, despite the agreements reached between the parties on the ceasefire and the signing of the Protocol on the Settlement of the Armed Conflict in the Border Areas of the Batken region of the Kyrgyz Republic and the Sughd region of Tajikistan.
At least 35 people, including civilians and children, were killed, hundreds were wounded, and more than 25,000 civilians became refugees and displaced after the border clashes.
The fighting affected at least a dozen villages in the Batken and Leilek regions of Kyrgyzstan. More than a dozen houses were burned in the village of Kok-Terek in the Batken region, and many residential buildings were also set on fire or destroyed in several villages of the Leilek region. More than 1,000 cattle were seized by the military and residents of neighboring territories of Tajikistan. 10 Kyrgyz citizens were taken hostage and subsequently released on 1 of May after negotiations between authorities of both countries. Images circulating on social media from the scene depict armed Tajik nationals in civilian clothes walking around the burning houses and a bulldozer destroying the outer wall of the compound on the territory of Kyrgyzstan in presence of Tajik soldiers. Biggest portion of corroborating materials has been made by participants of the military operation on Tajikistans’ side and published in Tajik language telegram channels and social media platforms.
According to unofficial information Tajikistan allegedly also suffered damage to property, human losses and injuries among civilians. However, it is difficult to corroborate this information due to lack of transparency and reliable information from Tajikistan side, to collect data and facts regarding destroyed property, casualties and injured among Tajik citizens. It has been reported that work of journalists was impeded by Tajik local authorities with journalists being locked up in local administrations and requested to delete video and photo content.
The cases of arson and the use of long-range explosive weapons as well as air strikes on residential areas, schools, administrative buildings should become the subject of immediate investigation by Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, involving international observers and institutions. The countries should investigate civilian casualties, injuries and the destruction of civilian property in order to identify hold accountable those responsible on both sides for serious violations of the laws of war and human rights.
To prevent the escalation of the conflict and to avoid a repeat of military clashes, for restoration of normal life of communities that suffered as a result of the conflict we call on the international community to facilitate and support urgent action in the following directions:
- The UN Security Council to hold an emergency meeting on the situation on the Kyrgyz-Tajik border for immediate action to protect the citizens on both sides of the conflict from the military aggression.
- OSCE to send military observers to the conflict zone and involve both parties to conduct independent monitoring of the investigation.
- Strengthen the necessary mechanisms of interaction between development partners and humanitarian partners to provide immediate humanitarian assistance to communities and households affected by the conflict, including assistance in the return of residents of affected villages to their places of permanent residence, also through assistance in the restoration of their homes and other destroyed social facilities.
Civil society organizations of Kyrgyzstan express deep gratitude to some countries and international organizations for providing assistance and expressing a firm position on the tragic events in the Sughd and Batken regions.