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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.