Commission On Security & Cooperation In Europe: U.S. Helsinki Commission
“Addressing Ethnic Tension in Kyrgyzstan”
Independent International Commission of Inquiry into the Events in Southern
Kyrgyzstan in June 2010 (via video link)
His Excellency Muktar Djumaliev,
Ambassador of the Kyrgyz Republic to the United States
Dr. Martha Olcott,
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Dr. Alisher Khamidov,
Johns Hopkins University (SAIS)
The Hearing Was Held From 1:30 p.m. To 3:41 p.m. in Room 2118, Rayburn House
Office Building, Washington, D.C., Representative Christopher Smith (R-NJ)
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
REPRESENTATIVE CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH (R-NJ): The commission will come to order,
and I want to welcome all of you to this hearing on addressing ethnic tensions
in Kyrgyzstan, the only country in Central Asia where street protests have in
recent years twice led to changes in government. Kyrgyzstan is also the only
state in Central Asia which has experimented with a parliamentary form of a
government, so it stands out in those two very important ways.
But the focus of today’s hearing is the terrible ethnic violence that erupted
one year ago this month, shortly after the April revolution that toppled former
President Bakiyev, and what the government of Kyrgyzstan should do to address
it. On June 10th – June 2010, ethnic Kyrgyzstan (sic) and ethnic Uzbeks
clashed in the southern region of Osh. By the time the worst was over, 470
people were dead, and over 400,000 displaced. Thousands of homes and
businesses were destroyed. The clashes drew a dark shadow on the hopes
engendered by the ouster of the corrupt Bakiyev government.
To its credit, the government of Kyrgyzstan requested an international
investigation into the events, and I certainly commend President Otunbayeva for
that initiative. A response to the Independent International Commission of
Inquiry into the Events of Southern Kyrgyzstan in the June of 2010 was formed.
It released its report last month. And our first witness is Kimmo Kiljunen,
who chaired that commission.
And it is an excellent report. I am deeply concerned by its conclusions.
Especially alarming is the commission’s judgment that the systematic nature of
some acts committed last June by ethnic Kyrgyzstanis against ethnic Uzbeks,
including patterns of murder, rape and brutal ethnic persecution, could qualify
as crimes against humanity. It remains to be seen whether they will be found
so in a court of law and whether or not competent court – a competent court
might take on the case. In any case, such a judgment by such a credible
commission of investigation must be taken seriously, and the government of
Kyrgyzstan must investigate these crimes seriously and hold those responsible
I’m also disturbed that the security forces apparently were complicit in the
attacks, not only by failing to respond adequately to stop the violence but,
according to the commission’s report, in some cases even distributing weapons
to ethnic Kyrgyzstanis or driving the armored personnel carriers which
perpetrated the defense of ethnic – penetrated the defenses of ethnic Uzbek
Unfortunately, so far the government has brought more cases against ethnic
Uzbeks, who make up the majority of the victims, and there is credible evidence
that torture was used to extract confessions from these ethnic Uzbeks. There
is also – this also must be investigated – including the case of human rights
defender Azimzhan Askarov, who has been sentenced to life imprisonment, despite
his credible claim that he was tortured.
Just as disturbing is the ongoing serious human rights abuses against ethnic
Uzbeks, including torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, and unfairly
conducted trials, which also covered – have been covered in detail by the
report. Because the police force is deeply involved in these abuses – it is
almost entirely made up of those of Kyrgyzstan ethnicity – victims feel that
they have nowhere to turn. Ethnic Uzbek businessmen and migrant workers
returning from Russia are particularly – and particular targets for extortion.
Even with the understandable reluctance of victims to report abuses, the Office
of the High Commissioner – of the UNHCR has documented some 680 cases of
arbitrary arrest for ransom since June of 2010, as well as 70 cases of torture
in detention. Ongoing human rights violations must stop immediately, and those
responsible need to be brought to justice.
President Otunbayeva has said many things – many of the right things in recent
days. While laying a wreath in Osh to commemorate the one-year anniversary of
the violence, she called for ethnic – interethnic peace and urged the
nationalism not be used for political purposes. She has pledged to purge the
police forces, reform the judicial system and fight organized crime.
She told the OSCE recently that, quote, “In addition to the reconstruction of
destroyed facilities, we also face a far more difficult task: to restore the
lost trust between” both “communities in the south. It is not easy to achieve
trust after such a complex conflict.” The national – “the level of nationalism
and intolerance is very high. In the government’s comments on the commission’s
report: We openly admit,” she went on to say, “the existence of serious
problems in the field of human rights in the post-conflict period; we agree
with many criticisms of the commission in this field; we are ready to change
the situation and we need support in implementing commission’s recommendations.”
I would ask without – unanimous consent that the full statement be made a part
of the record, because we are pressed for some time this afternoon. And I
would also, without objection, include opening statements from other
commissioners, many of whom are on their way here.
First, we will hear today from Kimmo, who – a former member of the Finnish
parliament and currently chairman of the Independent International Commission
of Inquiry into the Events in Southern Kyrgyzstan in June of 2010. He has been
a colleague of long standing at OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, a good friend and
a man who has spoken out on human rights everywhere in the OSCE space for many
years. And we will now turn to him for his comments.
KIMMO KILJUNEN: Thank you very much. Can you hear me? I hope you can hear me.
MARK MILOSCH: Yes, we – yes, we can.
MR. KILJUNEN: OK. Thank you very much. And I have to start my short
presentation with thanking – two things: first, that it wasn’t necessary for
me to travel to Washington in this time, due to the fact that we do have the
coming week and starting from tomorrow already the biggest summer festivity in
Finland and I would sacrifice my family – (chuckles) – to come there. So
thanks that we could organize this in this particular way, although obviously
I’m not seeing you physically, but we can hear it from each other. And
obviously I know you very well already; before, we have been several times.
Second thanks comes to – goes to the American government and you personally
also, in the way that you have given strong support for the International
Inquiry Commission, which I have headed, first, obviously, financially – United
States of America was the second-biggest financial supporter after the European
Union for the commission’s work, as well as political support during the
process itself of inquiry – several experts and the competence came from your
country – but also very important of course after, when we have published our
report. I have been very pleased that the U.S. government has supported it and
even after that episode (which a bit strains ?): that the Kyrgyz – Kyrgyzstan
parliament condemned the report and put me personally as a persona non grata
and also asked the prosecutor’s office, as well as law enforcement authorities,
to put accountable those people who have helped us in terms of the report
preparation inside Kyrgyzstan. These were obviously severe steps, and I’m very
pleased that the international community, including the United States
government, has condemned that process. So these are the thanks.
Then about the commission itself, the work and some of our conclusions, if you
allow me first to say a few works about characteristics of the inquiry –
because it was a bit sui generis type of operation we made – there were several
requests by the international community to have an investigation on the events
in southern Kyrgyzstan last year. OSCE, European Union, several governments,
obviously the United Nations requested this type of inquiry. But at the end it
was done via this type of independent inquiry commission, which obviously used
the terms of references for – of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human
Rights. It’s not typically the references for this type of inquiries, when
similar types of human rights violations have taken place throughout the world.
So we used actually very much the U.N. type of formula in terms of our mandate,
and the members of the commission were very high-caliber. Myself, I was
heading it, but we had seven members altogether in the commission, including
Ralph Zacklin, the former assistant secretary-general for the United National
for legal affairs; Philip Alston, who is a professor in Harvard University from
Australia, very famous international lawyer; Rein Mullerson from Estonia,
former acting foreign minister of Estonia and also vice chancellor of the
Tallinn University; Valery Tishkov from Russia, who is a former minister for
national minorities in Russia and academician; as well as Brigitte Horbette
from France, who has been a member of the Court of Appeal; and Yakin Erturk
from Turkey, who has been the former U.N. representative on gender-related
violence. So we had a very high-quality commission who worked throughout the
period when we started operation at the end of September.
We had around 50 researchers, specialists on the field. We had public
officials in Osh and Jalal-Abad, and we had – we were two and half months,
close to three months, working in Kyrgyzstan. And thanks very much for the
Kyrgyzstan government that they obviously agreed with the terms, but they also
fulfilled the terms. So we had access to information, access to every places
where we wanted to go. We could meet every people we wanted inside the
country. Obviously, we also made interviews outside the country among the
refugees, particularly in Russia and some other countries too. So we made a
very extensive inquiry, interviewing over 700 people and we have lots of
audiovisual, other documentary materials in our hands.
We finalized the report so it was released in May, early May this year. CMI,
the Crisis Management Initiative, President Ahtisaari’s office in Helsinki
provided the secretarial/technical support for the commission. So I would say
so that it was in that way properly done.
Now some of the conclusions of our report – you already mentioned some of the
basics but obviously, our task was to study first why this tragedy happened;
secondly, what happened. Obviously our task was to look at the
responsibilities and finally, obviously, make recommendations. And that is
roughly the content of the report, and obviously you have had it and I’m
pleased that you have even read it and commented – it.
In terms of why it happened, of course, the first question in Kyrgyzstan: Who
started it and when it exactly started. Obviously the tragedy itself in Osh,
the biggest violence period was 10th to 13th or 14th of July last year. But we
can say that the whole process started on the 7th of April, when there was an
overthrow of the Bakiyev regime in Bishkek and a new interim government took
place and created and generated, obviously, a power vacuum, particularly in the
south in Kyrgyzstan, which is a stronghold from – for Bakiyev, the previous
So obviously a power vacuum, particularly, is explaining the political reasons
for the tragedy. One must remember that 20 years ago, in 1990, there were
similar type of violent tragedy – roughly even the same time of the year, June,
in 1990 – in Osh, particularly Osh region and southern Kyrgyzstan. There too
it was the same situation, power vacuum, because the Soviet Union was to
collapse, and was collapsing, and that generated a problem. That was actually
1991. So it was exactly 10 years ago. And that – 20 years ago. And that
obviously is – was a major problem and reason for this – for the tragedy
There were three major political players which – we obviously looked very
carefully in terms of political reasons. Obviously there are former supporters
of the Bakiyev regime, who had a stronghold in the south in Kyrgyzstan. They
generated during May already several types of violent events, in Jalal-Abad
particularly, which created concern. Obviously the interim government itself
has a responsibility in the area they’re principally controlling.
And obviously one must remember that in southern Kyrgyzstan 40 percent of the
population are from Uzbek origin, although in terms of total population it’s 14
percent. But in southern Kyrgyzstan they are – the Uzbek population is large
and obviously Uzbek political leaders (start ?) also to be activated. And that
created tensions step by step where, I would say, sowed political fanaticism,
used ethnicity as a tool and that obviously generated the process.
There have been, obviously, and when we are looking, criminal elements and
other issues which are related, but that’s roughly the political context.
What happened? We have a very detailed narrative in our report. I would say
so it’s the best account on – almost hour by hour, day by day, suburb by
suburb, both in Osh and Jalal-Abad, where we are really describing the
terrifying events, what happened.
Then comes, obviously, questions of the responsibility. Major issue for us was
to qualify the crimes committed in terms of humanitarian law. Obviously the
figures – you already mentioned that roughly 470, not more than 500, were
killed. The exact number is still lacking, but roughly on that range it is.
You mentioned, obviously, displaced people, 3(00,000), 400,000, depending how
we are calculating that one, or close to 100,000, took refuge in Uzbekistan.
Short time, they returned back.
And obviously it generated big, big problems. Lots of property demolished.
Seventy-four percent of the killed people were Uzbeks; 24 percent were Kyrgyz.
So that was roughly the relations in terms of killings and obviously in the
terms of violence. In terms of properties, dwellings, particularly, it was
primarily Uzbek areas which were destroyed in terms of dwellings. In terms of
public properties, obviously it was different parts of the cities, also Kyrgyz
Then, in terms of the responsibilities, first issue for us was to qualify the
intent in terms of international law. We clearly came to the conclusion it’s
not war crime.
The second point, which was addressed, was genocide. We couldn’t – the
evidence is not enough to say it was a genocide. But in terms of the
reasonable suspicion principle we used in the terms of our investigation, it
was crime against humanity.
It was widespread, it was systematic and against civilian population
particularly – and we addressed that one – particularly attacks in 11th, 12th
and 13th against Uzbek mahalas, Uzbek suburbs. There we can say in Osh that
this was a crime against humanity, and obviously we need court to take an
investigation – prosecution investigation in order to really beyond doubt come
to that same conclusion.
Then we obviously looked the responsibilities in Osh individually. The task –
mandate for the commission was very clear: We shouldn’t do a criminal
investigation, and we couldn’t do, obviously. We didn’t have the
methodologies, competence, and it was not our task either to have a criminal
investigation. It’s up to the courts in Kyrgyzstan to do, and obviously we
asked them seriously to do that.
But we obviously looked how much we have evidence in terms of individual
responsibilities, and our evidence wasn’t enough to say this or that person
particularly should be taken to the court. We don’t have – we don’t have
enough evidence. We know that crimes were committed – particularly lots of
crimes in terms of human rights violations were committed and others too, and
obviously the court must take those up. And that’s important.
Unfortunately, as also you mention in your preliminary – your first statement,
there have been court cases, close to a thousand already, this day, but
unfortunately, major part – major part of those court cases are against Uzbeks.
I already mentioned that 74 percent of the victims were Uzbeks in terms of
killed people. Eighty percent of the court cases are against Uzbeks, and all
who have been condemned to date are Uzbeks. So it’s obviously
disproportionally – (chuckles) – nonbalanced procedure. And unfortunately, all
the cases have been – the major evidence have been confession.
And you yourself mentioned and we have evidence that torture has been used.
And obviously that’s absolutely, absolutely major violation against – major
human rights violations. And that should be addressed seriously by the
prosecutor’s office in Kyrgyzstan, as well as to check the judicial system that
it’s really working properly in terms of all Kyrgyzstan law and obviously also
in terms of international law. These are one of the major parts of our
Then we looked obviously at the institutional responsibilities, and of course
every governments have a responsibility to protect their people. And
irrespective of that fact, which we know, that there was a power vacuum in the
south in Kyrgyzstan, nevertheless the interim government have a principal and
had a principal responsibility to protect the people, and obviously they
The major issue is about the law enforcement bodies and security forces, and
there, unfortunately, we can clearly see – we can clearly see that there is a
major question mark – major question mark. Our conclusion is very clearly so –
that there were actually security forces present in the area, but they were not
used properly to protect the people. They protected rather the administrative
buildings, rather than people, and that obviously is a major failure.
Furthermore, furthermore, clearly there’s an evidence that seizure of weapons
by troops, military forces, police forces, is a big question make, and creates
a complicity potential. And we are very much asking, the commission is asking
– one of the recommendations is that there must be a very proper prosecution
investigation on the responsibilities of the security forces, law enforcement
bodies, particularly addressing the question of seizure of the weapons. And
that’s a major, major, major problem there.
Then obviously we recognized also the, let’s say, less transparent elements in
the society, including the criminal issues and narcotrafficking, these type of
problematics, which are playing a major role in southern Kyrgyzstan. They
neither – we don’t have enough evidence to say this or that gang or this or
that group has been responsible, but obviously we can also see the role – what
– in terms of the violence.
In terms of the recommendations, there are concrete, major – 50 – more than 50
recommendations, starting – very concrete issues, where we are really asking
particularly that a strong public stand must be taken by the Kyrgyzstan
government and authorities to condemn ethnic nationalism – ethnonationalism in
the country. That’s not the way you conduct politics in any country today, and
ethnic polarizations should be avoided.
We are proposing different measures how to improve the relations between ethnic
groups in southern Kyrgyzstan, how to improve the position of Uzbeks, also in
public administration, law enforcement bodies, in police forces as well as in
judicial systems; that it would be more balanced than today.
We also addressed the question of the Uzbek language. We are not asking Uzbek
to become an official language in the language in the country, but certain type
of position for Uzbek language in southern Kyrgyzstan should be recognized more
proper way than today.
There are lots of those recommendations related to the prosecution processes
and court cases which should be seriously taken. And we also are recommending
a truth and reconciliation commission should be established more fully, with
Obviously, the reconstruction operation should be started – it has already been
started, obviously, we know, but it should be moving further, and obviously
also international support is needed there.
Then finally, we are also asking the international community to take seriously
both our recommendations, which they have taken – and we are pleased on that
one – but also asking the High Commissioner for Human Rights of United Nations,
as well as the High Commissioner for Minorities of the OSCE to establish
monitoring and follow-up systems, and that way support the government of
Kyrgyzstan in putting forth our recommendations.
Finally, in our report, there’s also an annex made by the Kyrgyzstan
government. We are – this is typical nowadays in these types of reporting that
there is an annex of opinions of the governments on the report. They are quite
critical. Obviously we understand. There are certain areas we can dispute,
but principally most important is that the government agrees with our
conclusions in the way that the recommendations – they are saying that the
major part of them they are taking seriously, and the government of Kyrgyzstan
is aiming to establish a special commission to implement and monitor our
recommendations. And I’ve already now understood that the international
community, European Union, United Nations, OSCE, United States – your own
country – several governments have supported that initiative and are willing to
help Kyrgyzstan government to put – to implement our recommendations and also
creating a monitoring system.
Finally, I want to come back to what – where from I started – concerns the
decision by Kyrgyzstan parliament. I see that they took a very critical – why
they took a very critical position was somewhat related – that they wanted to
take distance from the commission’s report, which is very, very, very
unfortunate, particularly if that distance-taking means that they are not
supporting the government’s effort to implement the recommendations, because
our aim clearly, clearly was reconciliation. And that’s very – pity if that’s
The persona non grata position on myself is a big pity, but more important is
that I cannot agree at all – and this is a major, major problem – if
prosecutor’s office or law enforcement bodies start to somewhat harass and – as
they put accountable those people in Kyrgyzstan who had technically helped our
commission’s work. I am and the commission members – we are outside from
Kyrgyzstan, but there are really people living in the country who have been
helpful for our work, and it’s out of questions that they should be any way
And I’m very pleased that the president has indicated that’s not the case, it
cannot go this way, and also has actually indicated that the government itself
takes seriously our recommendations and are aiming to implement them.
Thank you very much.
REP. SMITH: Dr. Kiljunen, thank you very much for your report. Thank you for
your willingness to come and provide testimony to our commission. You had
mentioned that you’re hoping people will take notice. Well, as you can see by
this commission hearing, we are have – we have taken notice, and we’re hoping
to help you to get to the bottom of what happened and especially an
accountability for those who committed, as you put it, these crimes against
I would like to ask you, just in terms of definitions – you know, the
Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, the U.N.
convention, makes it very clear in Article II that genocide means any of the
following acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a
national, ethnical – ethnic, racial or religious group – such as killing
members of the group, causing serious bodily or mental harm to the group – and
then it goes on with other criteria.
In coming to your conclusion that it’s a crime against humanity as opposed to
genocide – you know, it doesn’t have to be the whole group; it can be in whole
or in part. Do you think it does rise to the – to the – to the status of being
a crime of genocide? And as you recall, we had serious problems during the
Balkan wars of those who would not call, for example, what happened in
Srebrenica a crime – a genocide. And I’m just wondering, you know, in terms of
definitions, as my first question, what your thoughts are on that.
MR. KILJUNEN: Thanks very much for the question. Now I must immediately admit
I’m not a lawyer in international humanitarian law. I’m not a specialist on
that area. So in terms of our report’s conclusions, on that particular issue,
I relied with the high expertise which we had actually in our commission
itself. We had actually four major – (chuckles) – lawyers in terms of
international law who really looked very, very carefully conceptually that
issue – genocide, war crime and crime against humanity.
They – the evidence what we have – as I said, we are – our evidence is
obviously based on reasonable suspicion, that – this is not a court; it’s not a
tribunal where we are. So it’s not a court case itself, but we obviously have
The evidence what we have, I already indicated, in terms of international law –
and there I’m saying what they are; I am repeating what they are saying; as am
I saying, I’m not specialist – they say that this is not a genocide. It’s not
in terms of scale itself, in terms of its process itself; it’s not going –
qualifying on those terms.
When they’re looking – the concept of – the concept of crime against humanity,
they’re also very, very careful on that one. They look at very carefully the
Rome Statute and all those issues, and they clearly, as I’ve indicated –
(inaudible) – the three basic issues and very specific events during that
process, in – during that strategy, particular, as I said to you, those attacks
against Uzbek mahalas in Osh in 11th and – between 11th and the 13th of June,
they were – the way it was done clearly was crime against humanity in terms of
the evidence what we have.
Why do we say so? It was widespread. It was widespread; it was systematic
one. It was repeated in the same way in different suburbs, in different
mahalas, Uzbek mahalas of the – of the Osh, and same way of organizing the
attacks there and also robbing, burning and killing. And even there was also
sexual violence – also related, but that necessarily – (chuckles) – one or –
it’s one of elements, but was very systematic one and also obviously against
civilian population. So those indications are obvious – (inaudible) – where
you can come to the conclusions, crime against humanity.
REP. SMITH: Let me ask you if I –
MR. KILJUNEN: But in terms of genocide, clearly those experts, the (inter ?)
lawyers say that it wasn’t on that scale.
REP. SMITH: You mentioned that you’re hoping that the – High Commissioner for
Human Rights Pillay will do something in response to your report. One, have
they done anything? Has the Human Rights Council does – done anything in
response to your report?
And with regards to the ICC, as we all know, one of the criteria is that
whether or not there’s a competence and a willingness on the part of the
government where these alleged crimes have occurred to prosecute, investigate,
and prosecute adequately, and then incarcerate those who have committed these
crimes. We know that places like Kenya, countries like Kenya, are arguing that
they have the capacity and the willingness and the capability to do so and yet
the ICC is still, you know, asking for certain people who have committed very,
very serious crimes there. Do you believe that the Kyrgyz judicial system has
the ability to prosecute and to bring to justice those that have committed the
MR. KILJUNEN: First, concerning the U.N. dimensions, high commissioner for
human rights. They have contributed very strongly from the start to our
investigation. The (terms is ?) – we’re really even – we got them from their
sources. They helped us to formulate the mandate for the commission. And in
terms of expertise in the commission work, we – we’re relying very much on the
Very pleased we were obviously when our report was released. Madame Pillay
herself immediately – she was maybe one of the first ones to reacted positively
to our report and, in Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva a few weeks ago,
as you know, you mentioned, it was clearly mentioned our report as one of those
key documents, and high commissioner of human rights indicated that the
follow-up work in terms of the high commissioner’s work inside Kyrgyzstan will
– looked at our recommendations, and that way they are very supportive.
As regards to ICC, International Criminal Court, there we have a bit different
situation now concerning Kyrgyzstan because Kyrgyzstan is not part and parcel
of the ICC. They are not – that’s not a signatory country for Rome Statute.
And one – that’s one of the recommendations what we are really saying, that
Kyrgyzstan should sign the Rome Statute and, in that way, that would be the
(preventive ?) issue in terms of the future, similar to other issues, and that
Your last question was related to the issue that – are we trusting on the
juridical system in Kyrgyzstan to put people on – accountable? And here I can
say, you – as I already indicated, that principally we must trust in every
country under juridical systems. Practically, obviously we have recognized
several hiccups and problems which we already indicated in our report, even
that somewhat we are feeling that – and not only feeling, but we are seeing –
that the juridical processes have been unbalanced and that way that should be
I’m very pleased and I noted very clearly here to you also that President Roza
Otunbaeva has several times addressed that issue. Also government has said
that there should be reform even in terms of juridical system in Kyrgyzstan,
that it would be properly in future addressing these questions. And here
actually – it’s one of the talks and one of the recommendations also we have in
our report – it’s a powerful international community to help in reforming the
juridical system in Kyrgyzstan.
REP. SMITH: Dr. Kiljunen, we’re joined by a co-chairman of the commission, Ben
Cardin, who’s on a very tight schedule in the Senate, and he has some questions
or some comments.
SENATOR BENJAMIN L. CARDIN (D-MD): Well, Kimmo, first of all, thank you for
what you’ve done. It’s good to see you even though it’s long distance. It’s
nice to see –
MR. KILJUNEN: (Chuckles.) Nice to see you also.
SEN. CARDIN: Looks like you’re aging well. That’s good. I’m sure –
MR. KILJUNEN: (Chuckles.) See you in Belgrade hopefully.
SEN. CARDIN: Good. We – I will be in Belgrade, so I’ll look forward to seeing
you in Belgrade.
MR. KILJUNEN: Good.
SEN. CARDIN: Kyrgyzstan is a country in which the OSCE was relevant, that they
really got involved, and certain issues were certainly calmed down
dramatically. And I think we can take great pride that the process with OSCE
had a major impact in reducing the amount of violence and death.
Having said that, as your report points out, there are significant challenges
that we need to understand and confront. Now I didn’t hear your original
point, but looking at the focus of this hearing on the minorities, the Uzbeks,
the question is whether the Uzbeks have confidence in the centralized
government and whether they will – whether they’ll return and stay in Kurkistan
(ph), whether they’ll be able to economically prosper in Kurkistan (ph),
whether they’ll get a fair share of the governmental resources – since they are
now going to have a very minority status within the government. And these are
issues that are not easily resolved. But I thought that your report at least
helped us to understand that better, and I hope we can continue to put a
spotlight on this to make the type of progress for representation of all people
in Kurkistan (ph), and I welcome you – what you’ve done, and I can tell you we
will treat your information with the greatest amount of attention.
MR. KILJUNEN: Thanks, and good questions. You are addressing very well the
long-term problems, myriad problems in Kyrgyzstan, but as related to Uzbeks.
One should remember that the Uzbek community in southern Kyrgyzstan where it’s
a – where it’s a major community; as I said, there are roughly 40 percent of
the population in Osh are Uzbek – they do actually control quite well the
economy. They are – by average they are richer than the Kyrgyz population,
which is primarily from – is from countryside dominating in the south. Uzbeks
are dominating in the cities. They are more well-to-do, as I said; the Uzbek
But, very important, they are somewhat excluded from the public administration,
also from the politics of the country. Similarly the Uzbeks are not
represented practically at all in law enforcement bodies. Similarly they are
not represented in juridical systems. So that there are imbalances which are
serious one in terms of creating long-term harmony in the society.
And obviously Kyrgyz population’s economics, living conditions, should be
improved, but similar way, the Uzbek population’s participation in the public
affairs of Kyrgyzstan should be improved in order to really reconciliate in the
longer term, as I said.
These are typical minority problems, as you put it very clearly, and OSCE
obviously – the body where we are – have been – is addressing those issues. As
regards the role of OSCE in southern Kyrgyzstan and in terms of our inquiry
commission too, it was a bit more complicated.
As you know, I am obviously – I was the special representative of OSCE
parliamentary assembly in the Central Asia. But OSCE itself didn’t actually do
the – this was independent commission from OSCE, even independent commission
from OSCE parliamentary assembly. OSCE was very active after the events, the
tragic events, in southern Kyrgyzstan in terms of trying to help to organize –
reorganize or reform the police forces south in Kyrgyzstan. That created quite
strong resistance in Kyrgyzstan and, at the end, compromise was found, so this
type of – (inaudible) – technical advisory police group was sent to the
southern Kyrgyzstan to help this type of reforms. So OSCE is present there
obviously trying to help also the reconciliation process, but it’s a long-term
and long process.
SEN. CARDIN: Look forward to seeing you in Belgrade.
MR. KILJUNEN: Yes. Thanks.
REP. SMITH: Dr. Kiljunen, I’d like to ask just a couple of very brief
questions; if you would, as best you can, provide answers. And again, I thank
you for the gracious grant of your time to be here via this satellite hookup.
MR. KILJUNEN: It’s great pleasure for me not to travel there. (Chuckles.)
REP. SMITH: Okay.
MR. KILJUNEN: So I can see you here in Helsinki.
REP. SMITH: Thank you. Could you just tell us about the role of the media
during the violence? And we understand – I know your report recommends that
the Uzbek-language media be reopened as soon as possible, and yet we note that
the parliament has voted to ban Fergana.ru and limit international media during
the upcoming presidential election. Secondly, if you could speak to
retaliation: Has there been any retaliation against any of those people with
whom you had contact and your group? It’s very important if you could get that
on the record so – you know, if there has been such retaliation.
And what is – how would you characterize the reaction of President Karimov to
the crisis that erupted last year? And finally, your ability to travel there
obviously has been revoked. Are you seeking – if you were able to travel,
would you – would you again, you know, hop on a plane and go there with –
either by yourself or with the other members of your commission? Do – is there
unfinished business that you need to accomplish by a(n) in-country visit?
MR. KILJUNEN: Thanks very much. Very good questions and – (chuckles) – even
with the very detailed questions.
First off, the role of media. You know in America, I know in Finland, we know
the present world today – media is a very strong player. It creates the image
of the reality in every society; it influence very much in terms of formulating
opinions, and that way the responsibility of the media is important. And in
our report, we don’t have very deep analysis of the media; but what we have is
very clearly indicating that media was one of those instruments (that were ?)
polarizing and creating stigmas and creating animosities among the ethnic
groups. They – it should have been more, let’s say, reconciliatory. And
that’s very unfortunate. We are actually asking in the – one of the
recommendation is that they should create a code of conduct, media, in terms of
– in terms of ethnic balance of the society.
In terms of aftermath – and now I’m telling you my own experience – and you as
a politician, myself too – the press conference I had in Kyrgyzstan, in
Bishkek, on 3rd of May, was an extraordinary press conference. I have never
had so hostile media environment anywhere as there. Some – sometimes they were
accusing, attacking very strongly the media representatives against me, and
they were applauding to those questions that they made as if they would testify
against me and not myself for giving the report. So the media unfortunately
plays in Kyrgyzstan major role and unfortunately even today not necessary
helping the reconciliation. That’s a severe problem and severe issue.
Then you ask about the retaliation in terms of the parliament decision
concerning the people who had helped us, and here I am open. Unfortunately
there are evidence: At least one person who have helped us, Uzbek origin, has
actually left Osh because of harassment related to his technical help to our
commission. He has took refuge first in Bishkek, and he’s now going to
So that is obviously major, major issue if there would be more widespread – and
even this one single case is terrifying – that those people who have helped us
are somewhat in jeopardy inside the country. That’s a – that’s a major, major
problem in terms of the commission’s integrity and in terms of future similar
type of investigation if done in any part of the world, if the result is
persona non grata for the heads of the commission, no travel possibilities for
the other commission members, or even harassment against people who have
worked. It’s absolutely impossible to accept.
Then President Karimov’s role in Uzbekistan: Of course, it’s a very good
question and complicated question. You obviously remember Andijan, 2005.
There was a violent episode in Andijan, Uzbekistan, which never, never were
investigated properly by international community. Uzbekistan government didn’t
allow that to take place, although request was made by different governments
and different international organizations.
In this case, in terms of the Kyrgyzstan, 2010, now Uzbekistan government has
been very supportive for international inquiry to take place; in international
forums, they have requested it; and they have been different ways supportive.
Even how they handle the refugee situation in south and supported the
Kyrgyzstan government to balance the situation has been both agreed in terms of
Kyrgyzstan itself, the government of Kyrgyzstan, as realized by international
community. So in that way, President Karimov, the Uzbekistan government have
been very constructive.
Then the last question concerning myself and my commission members in terms of
the future: Obviously – and I’m very open here – I’m very, very sad and
sorrowed that I don’t have the opportunity to travel to Kyrgyzstan. I met some
deputies from Kyrgyzstan parliament here in Finland, a few week ago; I hope I
to – I will meet them in Belgrade; and I – we have open discussion, and ask
them openly, why you made this decision? I suppose I’m one of the friends of
your country – and I am friend of your country – and I wanted to help in terms
of reconciliation process. Obviously I wanted to travel there. My commission
members wants to go there and help in different ways, even if the question is
about the truth and reconciliation commission, we might give advices and ideas,
et cetera, et cetera.
But now, because of the ban, obvious it’s impossible. As I said, the president
office and the government has deplored the situation. But obviously it has a
legal effect because if parliament makes a decision, obvious it’s an – it’s a
parliament decision. It’s political primarily than legal, one that has also
legal consequences. And that means that I can only contribute for Kyrgyzstan,
as I hope to contribute, outside of Kyrgyzstan today, not inside.
REP. SMITH: Dr. Kiljunen, we’re joined today by Ambassador Muktar Djumaliev
who – I know – who will be testifying in the second panel, and I’m just
wondering, you know, if you had a direct message that you’d like to convey to
him or a question, we’d appreciate it. Or if you wanted to think about that
for a moment, we are joined by Congressman Trent Franks, who is chairman of the
Judiciary’s Committee on the Constitution and an expert on the Constitution,
but he also wears another hat: He’s the chairman of the caucus – the House
Caucus on Religious Freedom. So if you had a question for the ambassador – or
I could to right to Chairman Franks.
MR. KILJUNEN: If I can say a few words, first to Muktar Djumaliev, I can say
he’s my friend. We know each other very well, and thanks for Muktar Djumaliev.
He helped very much originally when we were establishing the commission. He
gave guidances and took a very responsible way, understanding the difficult
tasks for the commissions, and I’m very grateful for that one. So Muktar is in
that way my friend, but also obviously a responsible – a responsible civil
I have always one question to him in this case. I hope that he passes the
message to Kyrgyzstan government that what they committed in terms of the – our
report, saying that our recommendations are, by major part, valid and
important, that I would like that he also confirms that one and particularly,
because the idea was to establish a special national commission to look at our
recommendations, how he sees the situation just now in the country, in terms of
establishing that special commission to look the implementation of our
recommendation and monitor – I would like very much to hear his reactions to
REP. SMITH: OK. He will be in the witness stand just a few minutes from now.
I’d like to yield to Chairman Franks for any questions he might have.
REPRESENTATIVE TRENT FRANKS (R-AZ): Well, thank you, Chairman Smith. And I
just say for those listening here, there is no one in the Congress of the
United States that has greater credibility when – as it relates to religious
freedom and human rights than Chairman Chris Smith. He is a hero to all of us,
and we appreciate – appreciate the opportunity just to sit here with you, Mr.
Dr. Kiljunen, I also am grateful to you for joining us. I know that there are
plenty of things for a fellow like you to do, but we’re grateful that you’ve
taken the time. So I just have one question. I know you’re dealing with a lot
of economic challenges there in Kyrgyzstan. And I wanted to ask you, related
to the lack of economic opportunities as well as some of the continued
harassment, really, of some of the ethnic Uzbeks, many of them have essentially
left the country, and, for those who stay, I’m just wondering if they – if, as
an abused and disenfranchised minority population, could it create a situation
where those youth of that community are vulnerable to recruitment by extremist
organizations, Muslim extremism, jihadist groups? Is that a potential, or is
it something that you’ve observed in any way?
MR. KILJUNEN: Thanks for the question. It’s very important one because one of
the major claims before the inquiry started was that it’s actually the whole
tragedy was result of religious extremism and international terrorism. Our
evidence anyhow is not actually going to that direction. We could – couldn’t
say that it’s clearly somewhat organized from abroad or, let’s say, religious
extremist groups could – had utilized opportunity and created this cause and
tragedy itself. They might have played a role; we cannot never say so. But it
wasn’t systematic, and we couldn’t get evidence on that one.
How in terms of future – that was your question – obviously, obviously, always
when there is a situation that – (inaudible) – disharmony is in the society,
polarized situation is in the society, obvious that’s a breeding ground for any
types of extremistic elements. So potentially, yes, if the reconciliation
process is not properly taking place in Kyrgyzstan, southern Kyrgyzstan,
particularly – obviously there is a room for different types of extremism, and
I hope that that’s not created the situation ripe for this processes.
We know very well that in Fergana Valley and in that region of Kyrgyzstan –
it’s next door almost – there’s lots of room for different types of extremistic
and terroristic movements, and then that’s why this is even more important to
address seriously, and that’s why we are hoping, and I’m so pleased that the
government of Kyrgyzstan is also willing in terms of their reactions to our
report to have for the reconciliation.
REP. FRANKS: Thank you, Dr. Kiljunen. I – perhaps I’ll just ask one more
question; that’d be all right? I would just ask you finally, sir, what efforts
or steps do you know that may be being taken to – by the Kyrgyzstan government
to apply the rule of law to the entire society, whether it be religious freedom
or just the general rule of law within the judicial system and other security
instruments of the state? What are those steps, and can the OSCE ever be of
further assistance in that – to that end or to that goal?
MR. KILJUNEN: This is a very relevant question. Particularly you should ask
Muktar Djumaliev also to respond to that one because obviously he’s
representing the government there.
I know, as I said, that already that president herself has several times
addressed that question: hiccups and handicaps in the juridical system. And I
knows also that prosecutors-general’s office when we discussed that, they also
recognized the problems. But unfortunately it’s a long process to reform the
juridical system, and you’re absolutely correct saying that maybe if it’s
requested by Kyrgyzstan authorities, maybe the international community could
seriously help in this area, serious help in this area. I know that European
Union, for example, has in – helped in Kazakhstan on giving this juridical
system help, and we are also recommending in our report that the – that the
inter community in that area help Kyrgyzstan government. So I think it’s a
major issue you’re asking.
REP. FRANKS: Well, thank you again, sir, for joining us, and thank you,
REP. SMITH: Thank you. Thank you very much, Chairman Trent Franks.
Dr. Kiljunen, thank you so much for, again, appearing before our commission via
satellite. Your report was extraordinary. I first read about it when I was
traveling, and it came across as an AP dispatch and especially the way that you
were being, in my opinion, very much mistreated. So I want to thank you for
staying at this because you, like our commission, in your work for years, has
been very much focused on human rights. So thank you so much.
MR. KILJUNEN: Thanks, Chris, and we’ll see also you maybe in Belgrade. Thanks
very much, indeed.
REP. SMITH: Thank you. See you there.
I’d like to now welcome our next panel made up of the ambassador, Ambassador
Muktar Djumaliev, who arrived in Washington last December to represent the
Kyrgyz Republic. He previously served as Kyrgyz ambassador to Switzerland, the
World Trade Organization and the U.N. office in Geneva as well as deputy chief
of staff to the president and first deputy of minister of foreign trade and
industry. A full bio of you as well as our other very distinguished witnesses
who will follow on panel three will be made a part of the record.
So, Mr. Ambassador, please proceed as you would like.
AMBASSADOR MUKTAR DJUMALIEV: I thank you – thank you very much, Mr. Chairman,
for convening us this – microphone? Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for convening us
this meeting today. And this is a very important issue for Kyrgyzstan, and
this is a very sensitive issue, and I think this is important for the future
stability in Kyrgyzstan and for the – all the reconciliation process. What we
are discussing today here – it’s really very painful, and this is a very sad
story in Kyrgyzstan’s history.
I was hearing all the comments done by the – Kimmo Kiljunen. And, of course,
it seems to me that the report itself – and we have already commented and
expressed by the government on the comment by, first of all, accepting all the
comments done by the commission. And Mr. Chairman, it was the first time
experiencing when Kyrgyzstan made access for the international investigations
into the – its territory, and such a precedent never happened in the
The government of Kyrgyzstan’s – Kyrgyzstan appreciates the importance and
value of work done by the International Inquiry Commission and also express its
thanks to the reputable members for their efforts of contribution towards it to
investigate the tragic events that occurred in Kyrgyzstan.
The government also agrees with number of conclusions and criticism contained
in the report, and it does not absolve the responsibility for what happened.
The provisional government honestly and openly acknowledged its guilt and
responsibility on this address and – address on June 16th, 2010, to the people
of Kyrgyzstan and the international community.
Kyrgyzstan’s government is taking and will continue to take all necessary
measures to eliminate or minimize the consequences of the tragic conflicts and
to prevent the repetition of similar events in the future. Many of the
recommendations contained in the report have been implemented by the government
from the day of the conflict and from the – which was localized. Kyrgyzstan’s
government will establish the special commission to implement and monitor
implementation of the recommendations of the report and other reports and to
research – (inaudible) – related to the tragic events of 2010 in southern
However, the Kyrgyz government believes that the report does not contain
sufficient evidence to conclude that there have been made certain acts that can
qualify it as a crime against humanity during the June events in the city of
Osh. Kyrgyz government considers unacceptable the visible tendency in the ICC
report to take into account to a greater extent the crimes committed only by
the members of one acting group while ignoring the deaths or the casualties
suffered by the same group and depicting another group as the single suffered
and defenseless party.
It is also important to take into account the fact that during the conflict,
there were no sufficient political, financial and law enforcement resources at
the disposal of the provisional government to counter the large-scale
provocations of the interethnic clashes. However, even under such conditions,
the people and the authorities of Kyrgyzstan independently and without outside
intervention managed to stop violence and localize the conflict with a few days
– within a few days.
Kyrgyzstan’s government took a great effort to reconcile the parties of the
conflict to overcome the consequences of the conflict and still proceed with
this. However, there are still tangible tensions and a number of unsolved
social economic problems in the conflict zone. In conditions of the start of
the presidential campaign, some of the conclusions of the report can be used by
the opponents of the democratic reforms to destabilize the situation and
strengthen the position of the internal – (inaudible) – forces.
Kyrgyzstan’s government hopes that necessary conclusions from the events of
2010 will be made by the international community as well, including those
organizations that push – that aim to preventing and neutralizing the –
eliminating consequences of such conflicts. We have also started work on
developing and implementing the concept of ethnic development and consolidation
of the people of Kyrgyzstan.
We are doing everything possible to punish all those responsible. All trials
are held in conditions of unprecedented openness, but the situation remains
difficult, in particular with concerns about the emotional nature of the
trials, of the resonant crimes. The new government declared its uncompromising
war against criminals and determined to stop the emerging criminal gangs with
their authorities. The government has taken urgent measures to normalize the
functioning of law enforcement and security agencies. The Defense Council was
established as a – as a coordinating and supervisory body. In order to
effectively combat drug trafficking, a drug control agency abolished by the
previous government has been restored.
We intend to do everything possible to create conditions to strengthen the rule
of law, a culture of political dialogue, and open the equitable society.
Within a short period of time, we have achieved some qualitative improvements.
Independent media is functioning. The opposition has not only ample
opportunity to criticize the head of the state, but – the ruling parliamentary
coalition – but also actually participates in the – governing the country by
leading three parliamentary committees on budget and finance, law enforcement
and the rule of law, human rights and public organizations.
There are supervisory boards established in the ministries to ensure
transparency and accountability of the government to the people. We are
reforming the judicial system to make it truly independent and introduce
mechanisms to ensure quality selections of judges through the council, whose
composition is formed with the participation of opposition representatives.
Mr. Chairman, that many people want to ask today me on the Parliament’s
decision with regard to the Kimmo Kiljunen’s report. And as you know, after
the report was released, the situation in the country became more tense. The
people of Kyrgyzstan were expecting that the report will be objective,
balanced, and will contribute for the reconciliation, and we still believe in
it. In such a situation, while Parliament agreed with the comments of the
government, but it passed an order to the responsible agency to take a decision
on the entering of Mr. Kimmo Kiljunen to the Kyrgyz republic.
In this regard, the – only specialized agencies should decide on this issue.
At the same time, the president of Kyrgyz Republic called Parliament of the
Kyrgyz Republic to reconsider its decision at the meeting of the People’s
Assembly today – yesterday. The president called the Parliament to pay more
attention on adoption of the recommendations. Since the government commenced
to the report – complemented document, the report of the commission, we believe
that the report –
REP. SMITH: A message, Djumaliev – you’re at a very critical point in your
testimony, and I am loath to interrupt you – just hold on for one second.
I have two minutes to report to the floor for a vote. There are three votes.
I will be back within 10 to 15 minutes at the most. So the commission will
stand in brief recess, and if you could then get right back to where you are,
because it is a very critical part of your testimony. So we stand in recess
for 15 minutes.
The commission will resume this hearing, and again, Mr. Ambassador, I apologize
for that delay. We had three votes. Nothing I could do about it, but I would
now yield to you. Please continue with your statement.
AMB. DJUMALIEV: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I think I was just completing my
statement by saying the – by informing you about the decision of the Parliament
on using ban for the Kimmo Kiljunen’s entry to the Parliament. So that was my
final remarks, which I just informed you that the president called also for the
Parliament to reconsider its decision. And it was done yesterday. But at the
same time, we also know that the Parliament has accepted the recommendations –
the comments of the government, which actually accepts the recommendations of
So therefore, what Kimmo Kiljunen says today, that’s asking me to respond as to
whether Kyrgyz government will establish the commission for the implementation
of the commission’s report – of course there is a will. There will be
established the special commission to bring together not only the report of the
international inquiry commission, but there is also a number of reports which
is – which is filed for – six reports have been produced after the violence.
And then the commission should work out of these reports and to establish the
action plan for the implementation of all this commission’s recommendations.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. SMITH: Mr. Ambassador, thank you very much, and thank you for that
encouraging news. I’m sure Kimmo will be very – or was very happy to hear that
Just let me ask you a few questions. Can you tell us the main components of
your government’s new national plan to promote interethnic harmony, and how
will that be implemented? And if you could also speak to the credible
allegations of torture, rape, mistreatment in detention, especially rape and
torture – are those allegations being investigated, and by whom, and are people
being held to account? Are there any instances where someone who has abused,
in recent weeks, months, days – of being himself arrested and held for those
AMB. DJUMALIEV: I think the – actually, the main priority for the government
is of course the plans for the reconciliation process. This is the priority
number one for the government, and we see that this should be the priority also
not only for the government, but for all the society.
Just after the government started to develop the strategy on interethnic
development – and I believe that – and it is – we know that the – all the
interethnic – all the ethnic minorities and civil society has participated in
the development of this strategic document, which will be – or which is already
presented to the public yesterday. I think this document should be presented
yesterday, and I think this – if this document will – (inaudible) – there is
action plan for the interethnic development for the – which includes all the –
all the interests of ethnic minorities there. And this is the actual action
plan, which we believe will be adopted in a few days, maybe these days where
the assembly of peoples of Kyrgyzstan is gathering together to see these
documents and to discuss the plans.
With regard to the cases and violations, rapes and tortures, of course this
happened, and nobody can deny about that. And we have almost – more than 5,000
cases, and Kimmo Kiljunen also informed about these cases, and of course it’s a
huge cases: 5,000. The main purpose for this, of course – for us it is to
provide open, transparent, and fair, objective judicial process for all these
cases. And the president of the Kyrgyz Republic and the government is doing –
putting all the efforts in order to – and we understand that only the fair,
objective consideration and fair, objective process can help for the
reconciliations. And we – to do – and we do all our efforts for the reforms in
the judicial system in the same time. We also work hard in order to reform our
law enforcement system. We are also working hard in order to see what was
recommended by the – Kiljunen’s report, that he was saying that there was a –
there was a lack of representation of other ethnic groups in the – in the
judicial system, in the law enforcement system. So these – all these gaps will
be taken into account, and we are in the process of this reform.
REP. SMITH : Let me ask you, if I could: Do you believe that the political
will is there to empower sufficient numbers of prosecutors to collect evidence?
And you know, time is no friend of any prosecution. And if time is allowed to
elapse, I would be concerned – I think we all would be concerned – that people
– memories might fade – they – even though this is very recent, particularly
for the people who are – who have been tortured or raped or both in prison. I
mean, it seems to me that – is this something – if you could answer that – but
also, is this something that’s going on current, real-time, right now? Or are
you – can you assure us that the security apparatus, the police service is not
engaging in these kinds of abuses, like right now, today?
AMB. DJUMALIEV: Thank you. Thank you for this question. So it’s – I cannot
say that we still have such a situation right now. That was happened. That
was happened before, and we have 5,000 cases which happened on this – what you
I think it is clear that security forces and the law enforcement bodies is
taking under control of the situation itself. And we say that we have
localized this situation just in very few days, but of course that was – the
violations was – we see the report by the NGOs that there were some cases,
also, which is the most – the continuing – the violation in the process. But
every case is under the control of the law enforcement representatives there.
And there was also mention that the OSCE representatives also – the
consultancies there in order to assist our law enforcement representatives to
proceed – how to deal with such a difficult situation, which we faced first
time in the south of the region.
And I would definitely say that right now, there is no such a situation in
which we are worrying about that. Thank you.
REP. SMITH: My understanding is that there are at least some people in the
political parties calling the OSCE community security initiative, the small
number of trainers who are unarmed that have been deployed there – matter of
fact, an original call for 50 such unarmed OSCE trainers was rejected – they’re
calling it an occupation force.
And I’m wondering – you know, it would seem to me that right now Kyrgyzstan
needs more, not less, such trainers to have a presence there, particularly when
it comes to training police on basic human rights norms. What’s your thought
about the community service initiative? Do you welcome it? Does your
government welcome it? And more importantly, do you think it should be
AMB. DJUMALIEV: Mr. Chairman, of course this was a very sensitive issue even
we started taking decision to get the OSCE police contingent to Kyrgyzstan.
And at the same time, it was even very difficult to get the Kimmo Kiljunen’s
commission to Kyrgyzstan. But there was a political will that we should do it,
and we should decide that we need to make open, transparent investigation
process for all this situation.
And with regard to the OSCE, it was also the strong resistance from the public
society that we cannot allow to get – to bring the internal police for – in
Kyrgyzstan, that they will investigate all the process. There was the
misunderstanding about the OSCE presence in Kyrgyzstan, and I think the
government – after the consultations, after the government provides more
information to the public society. So finally, we also find that such a formal
– which is acceptable both for the OSCE and for Kyrgyzstan – that we, at this
stage – at this stage after the conflict was localized, we invited the
consultants, not the police because, of course, the public was strongly opposed
getting in the police into the territory of Kyrgyzstan.
REP. SMITH: What protections does someone have, particularly in detention, not
necessarily when they are finally incarcerated but while they are still being
interrogated, that would prevent or inhibit torture being imposed upon them?
And has the Red Crescent or the International Committee for the Red Cross or
any other body like it, but especially either of those two, been allowed
unfettered access into the prisons and into pretrial detention?
AMB. DJUMALIEV: At that time where I was actually in Kyrgyzstan – and we also
appreciate the Red Cross efforts, which actually works strongly to provide any
kind of assistance for the detention places. And I think we should continue to
cooperate with Red Cross and Crescent in order to – in this sector. I think –
in this issue – I think this is important, and – this is important, and we do
appreciate that they have good expertise and good practices to deal with such
an issue in such situations.
REP. SMITH: And as you know, they report only to you. So, I mean, our hope is
– and our – let me add our commission’s voice in asking that your government
robustly get them into the scene. It does have a chilling effect, if you will,
on certain police misconduct if there is a(n) ever-increasing presence of those
internationally – credible international experts who really know how to – I
mean, they don’t care what government they go to. And they’ll do it here in
the United States, as you know, as they did in Guantanamo. It’s important that
they have unfettered access. So I just want to add our voice to that, you
know, plea that you do more to get them into the country. OK.
Let me ask you – there are number of reports in the media that cite a steady
exodus of Uzbeks and other minorities from Kyrgyzstan as a result of the
ongoing harassment, attacks and threats of violence, and the loss of
properties. What is the government doing to prevent that exodus, and what –
who are acquiring those properties when they are confiscated?
AMB. DJUMALIEV: All these cases, Mr. Chairman, under the investigation now –
REP. SMITH: Yeah.
AMB. DJUMALIEV: – under the investigation process – and for me, from here,
it’s very difficult who are they are. And of course this is the – our Kyrgyz
citizens, first of all, who are involved in all of these crimes. And the
government is taking all the efforts in order to make the open, fair,
transparent process of investigations and to prevent further on these difficult
You mentioned that before the court will conclude, it’s very difficult to say
that the – differentiate whether it is ethnic – which ethnic groups are
involved in this process. But this is the – first of all, the criminal cases –
we accept that this is the criminal cases under the investigation process, and
we will do our best to – and we will do our best to punish for all those who
are involved in these crimes.
REP. SMITH: I do – oh, I’m sorry. One final question – and I asked this of
Kimmo, if he knew anything about this – I’ll never forget, in the 1980s, I
joined Armando Valladares, who spent almost two decades in Fidel Castro’s
gulags, was tortured without mercy, and actually wrote a book called “Against
All Hope,” chronicling his two decades of resistance inside the gulag. He led
the effort at the Human Rights Commission, and I was with him in the late 1980s
when he got the U.N. to do a fact-finding mission to Cuba. And they – and they
were told they would have unfettered access to people. There would be no
retaliation. And almost everyone who spoke to the U.N. investigators were
Now, Kimmo has been to Kyrgyzstan. They have interviewed people. They have
spoken to large numbers of people. Other investigators surely will be doing
the same as time goes forward, including indigenous people from your own
country. What kind of protections do people have who come forward with
information or already have, from when they are on board a plane if they’re
internationals so that the retaliation is not imposed upon them and beatings
and other misfortunes come their way. Do you have anything in place to ensure
AMB. DJUMALIEV: Of course this is – this is very important –
REP. SMITH: Yeah.
AMB. DJUMALIEV: – that we will – that we would avoid the retaliation after the
report has been published. And the government has taken all the efforts in
order to prevent any kind of provocation or repetition of such a situation
after the reports have been released. And we were waiting, actually, and it
was very difficult at that time. We commemorated the one-year anniversary just
recently, and I think that the – God bless us – that we will pass through very
difficult time of period for us. And the government is doing all the efforts
in order to prevent.
With regard to the human rights, with the UNHCR commissions, that – we are also
cooperating with the international experts there. And just a few days ago,
there was a resolution taking on Kyrgyzstan for technical assistance in
Kyrgyzstan, and these issues also will be covered under the technical
assistance efforts of the international community. Just after the situation
happened – the interethnic violence happened in Kyrgyzstan, that was the first
resolution under the U.N. High Commissioner commission to call the
international community to help Kyrgyzstan in preventing a repetition of such a
situation, and we are very grateful that the international community expresses
support for Kyrgyzstan. And we are open, also, for cooperating with them
because we also feel that we have lack of experience in such a situation, and
we also think that international community also should ask, and this will be
also lessons for the international community that we were not able to avoid
such a situation in advance, that we faced this after the June events.
REP. SMITH: Kimmo would like, I’m sure, to travel back to Kyrgyzstan. He’s
denied access or entry. I hope that will be revisited. And an analyst for the
International Crisis Group would also like to visit, and that person has been
denied a visa. That’s something you could look into as to why – I mean, the
ICG on a number of countries has provided very useful insights and very fine
recommendations to countries that are experiencing crisis, and yet their
analyst can’t even get into the country. Do you know why they were denied that
visa, that person?
AMB. DJUMALIEV: Mr. Chairman, I just talked to the representative of ICG and
requesting this issue. I have to find why the visa was not still issued, and I
think there’s – I don’t know, actually. This is my first time and I’ve heard
that the – she was not able to get visa from our embassy. But I will check it
out, and of course I think there’s – there should be no reason.
With regard to the Kimmo, I told you that the president doing steps further in
order to recall the Parliament to reconsider its decision.
REP. SMITH: Thank you. And I’ll only conclude by two things. First, thank
you so much for making yourself available to come into a congressional hearing
of this kind – a Helsinki Commission hearing – for your answers, which I
believe are very candid – and I thank you for that – and for your willingness
to work with our commission going forward, especially on a number of these
items that could be very quickly addressed. And above all, I would ask that
those who have committed crimes, that there be no – there is no statute of
limitations on crimes against humanity or any other serious capital crime, and
I would hope that those who have committed these crimes will themselves face
long jail sentences after going through a fair and balanced prosecution. So
please – I mean, it’s very important at the end of this that it’s not glossed
over and somehow, in a spirit of reconciliation, those who commit crimes don’t
do time. So thank you.
AMB. DJUMALIEV: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you.
REP. SMITH: I appreciate it, Mr. Ambassador.
I’d like to now introduce our third panel, and – beginning with Dr. Martha
Olcott, a senior associate with the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Carnegie
Endowment here in Washington. Dr. Olcott specializes in the problems of
transitions in Central Asia and the Caucasus, as well as the security
challenges in the Caspian region more generally. Dr. Olcott has testified
before the commission before, so we welcome her back.
Then we’ll hear from Dr. Alisher Khamidov, professor – lecturer at Johns
Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. Dr. Khamidov
began his career as director of the Osh Media Resource Center, a nonprofit
independent media association in southern Kyrgyzstan. He later worked at Notre
Dame University’s Sanctions and Security Project, the NEH Summer Institute and
– on Eurasian Civilizations at Harvard, and the – at the Foreign Policy Studies
Program of the Brookings Institution. He was in Osh during the June 10th
violence, so we look forward to his firsthand account and any suggestions that
he might have for our commission on how we should proceed as well as the
country of – (audio break).
MARTHA OLCOTT: Thank you very much. It’s an honor to be here to testify
before you today.
I would like to focus my comments, which I’m just going to share the highlights
of – and I’ve submitted a written testimony – I’d like to focus my comments on
the reaction to the report of the international – the independent international
commission of inquiry, the reaction that it evoked in Kyrgyzstan and what may
be the implications of this reaction for future political, social and ethnic
developments in the country.
I’ve not traveled to southern Kyrgyzstan since the June violence. I’ve made
six trips to Kyrgyzstan over the past 18 months, and I happened to be in
Kyrgyzstan shortly after the report was published and got to interview many of
the people. I got to talk with people of various levels of society and
government about it.
I think before I go further in my comments, I really want to commend the
stellar team that prepared the report. They put in extraordinary effort in
what was a tremendously difficult endeavor and came up with a detailed account
of terrible acts that destroyed so many lives, and made many, many very useful
recommendations. The end product will serve as a lasting indictment of what
went wrong in the southern part of Kyrgyzstan last June. And the
recommendations they offer reflect much thought and discussion and have
provided the president, the government and Parliament with a great deal to
think about. And, as has been noted here today, many of them are already under
I do think, as we go forward, the government of Kyrgyzstan deserves credit for
creating the conditions necessary for the inquiry to go forward. It really was
the first of its kind in the region.
I would make one criticism of the report, and this is really what I’m going to
focus some of my testimony on, the reaction. The only criticism I would make
of the report is that its findings and recommendations were not presented in a
way that was designed to make them palatable for the Kyrgyz polity, that – I’m
not speaking of the findings themselves, but the question of audience in the
report was one – was the Western audience that had really – and the
international audience that had really sent them.
And because of it, this very strong reaction – and the people in Kyrgyzstan
compare this report to their own homegrown efforts to investigate what occurred
– this very strong homegrown action will – I fear will increase the difficulty
of implementing some of the very important recommendations that the commission
has – that the commission has offered.
The fact that there’s been such a loud outcry against some of its
recommendations, especially – and I’ll come back to this – the fact that in the
first paragraph of the recommendations, they urge that the name of the country
be changed – the fact that there’s been such a loud outcry, including the
deplorable statement that Kimmo Kiljunen is persona non grata, I think speak to
– is a great – demonstrates the amount of political grandstanding going on in
Kyrgyzstan today, but it also points out the sharp division of power that we
have in Kyrgyzstan.
We’ve heard today from a representative of the government. Power is really
divided right now between a president who, since the June referendum, has very
little power, actually – and what she exercises, she exercises with enormous
political skill – with a government which has a great deal of power and reports
to a parliament which has no experience in supervising executive power. And
this is the atmosphere in which the recommendations are moving forward.
I think that a majority of Kyrgyz citizens would not take – would not take
exception to the vast majority of recommendations of the report, especially
those that deal with public safety and security. And most would probably even
support the majority of recommendations on accountability and on the need for
criminal and disciplinary accountability, although they would probably counsel
you, with a semi-quasi-fatalistic mode, that it may take longer to get these
changes implemented than one would like, having been experienced in Kyrgyzstan.
What I think most ordinary Kyrgyz citizens and political figures find difficult
to accept is the idea that Kyrgyzstan may have been more morally culpable than
– I’m sorry, that ethnic Kyrgyz may have more morally culpable than ethnic
Uzbeks in the events of June. And this being pushed in their face by this
report is the thing, I think, that they find it really, really difficult to
accept, which is one of the reasons why the kinds of confidence building and
reconciliation that the commission is talking about and that the president and
government have made supporting gestures towards is so critical.
For most ethnic Kyrgyz, I think, it is important to them that the violence
lasted only a few days and that it didn’t turn into a civil war. In that, they
to take personal and emotional satisfaction in, rather than focus on the
questions of responsibility that the report made so clear.
To me, the most controversial recommendations of the commission from the point
of view of Kyrgyz polity – and here, I include ethnic minorities of Kyrgyzstan
and not just ethnic Kyrgyz, save the Uzbeks – is the – is the idea that the
country should renamed or that – or that there should be a special status
granted to the Uzbek language, a constitutional status. This is very, very
controversial, and it is not something that is widely supported outside of the
I’m going to just switch the – we’ve been here really a long time, and
everything is in the testimony itself. I think it’s important, as we go
forward, for us to remember that the country is, as a whole, experiencing a
trauma, the trauma that was – the trauma that brought down the Bakiyev
government and living in this state of incomplete political resolution with an
interim president, a very new parliamentary system that’s not supported, if
public opinion polls are to be believed, by the majority of the population; and
on top of it, this trauma in southern Kyrgyzstan.
The trauma that’s experienced is experienced differently by those people who
are in southern Kyrgyzstan and those people who are living outside of southern
Kyrgyzstan. But all groups feel traumatized, and all groups feel aggrieved.
And it’s in this environment that the recommendations go forward. And it’s in
this environment that it will become – that the – that the recommendations will
Let me just go to the very last conclusion of my testimony. I think it’s very
– I think it’s really critical that the government and the parliament –
(chuckles) – and the president all be pressured to try to move towards the
kinds of efforts at reconciliation, many of which are in the report.
But how should the Helsinki Commission itself respond? Well, defending human
rights – I believe that it’s important that the Helsinki Commission continue to
be what you have been for decades now, strongly defending the human rights of
the entire population of a country, regardless of their ethnic origin.
But I do not believe that the Helsinki Commission should, as the – as the
independent investigative commission did at one point, cross the line and
become prescriptive about other aspects of nation building.
The lives of ethnic minorities everywhere were disrupted when the U.S.S.R. fell
apart, and the situation is particularly sad where people live in communities
that their ancestors lived in for generations and now find themselves as
minorities; that violence of June 2010 is a tragedy and the victims of violence
and their survivors should be compensated, while those responsible should be
But the shift away from Uzbek-language education is not a tragedy, nor is the
failure to rebuild Soviet cultural institutions in southern Kyrgyzstan. In my
opinion, it dilutes the power of the human rights message when outsiders seek
to engage in that degree of nation building, even when they do so with the best
The political freedom of all citizens of Kyrgyzstan should be defended equally;
freedom of press, religion, assembly, evenly applied. And the government of
Kyrgyzstan should continue to be pressed to ensure that legal safeguards are
put in place to guarantee that local security and judicial officials apply the
law evenly regardless of the ethnicity of the accused or are held accountable
for their actions.
But it is my opinion that we cannot even the playing field between ethnic
Kyrgyz and the various ethnic minorities of the country. And those
international agencies and actors that seek to do so risk losing their
credibility with the Kyrgyz polity and the Kyrgyz elite. The Kyrgyz language
is going to dominate in Kyrgyzstan, and those who can’t speak it – and
actually, most ethnic Uzbeks can – and those who can’t speak it will have a
harder time in public life in the future. That is the pattern everywhere in
the Central Asian region and will be – will be the Kyrgyzstan as well.
The ethnic Uzbeks in Kyrgyzstan face a difficult set of choices in coming
years: adapt to the changing political realities in Kyrgyzstan – and this
doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be introduced – I mean, that there shouldn’t
affirmative action pressures to make sure they’re introduced in sectors in
society where they’re under-represented – or think about relocating.
These choices are not of their making, but I do not think that international
actors can do much more than press the Kyrgyz government to respect the basic
human rights of all their citizens. To take this more limited approach may
make us more effective in trying to ensure that peace prevails in southern
Kyrgyzstan, but there will be no guarantees.
And to not take this approach, to not focus on human rights in its purest
definition, is to risk that the most important recommendations of the – of the
Kiljunen commission don’t get their fair hearing in Kyrgyzstan.
REP. SMITH: Thank you very much. Appreciate it.
Please, Dr. Khamidov.
ALISHER KHAMIDOV: Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you for having me here to
address the important question of ethnic tensions in my native country,
In June 2010, I was among those Kyrgyz citizens of Uzbek origin who fled to the
Uzbek-Kyrgyz border, trying to flee the violence. Just like many other Kyrgyz
citizens, I cherished hopes that Russia, Kazakhstan and other countries, with
which Kyrgyzstan has partnership relations, would intervene to stop the
violence. Our hopes were dashed when Kyrgyzstan was told by the Collective
Security Treaty Organization uniting these countries that it has to deal with
the conflict on its own. And so suddenly, a country where interests of many
countries overlapped became no one’s backyard.
There are many explanations for what happened in south Kyrgyzstan. There’s
historical explanations, saying that, oh, these two communities, they hated
each other for centuries. There are economic explanations pointing to economic
disparities between the two groups. And there are other explanations.
But really, the debate about causes of the conflict misses an important issue.
I would argue that, to understand last year’s violence, we need to have a more
nuanced and holistic view of Kyrgyzstan’s past and present. The violent regime
change and the bloody interethnic clash in 2010 are actually symptoms of a set
of broader and longstanding challenges or, I would call, chronic ailments that
have afflicted Kyrgyzstan and other Central Asian republics, including Russia,
since independence. If these ailments are not treated properly and adequately,
turmoil will continue to increase.
And let me briefly outline what are these ailments.
Twenty years ago, when Kyrgyzstan became independent, it faced four key
challenges or ailments. One was dealing with the country’s political
institution: Should we preserve Soviet-era political institutions, or should
we build a really democratic state?
The second challenge was that of the country’s identity: Do we want to build a
country which will be a home for all ethnic groups, or do we want to keep –
create a country which would be run by one ethnic group?
The third challenge related to the country’s economy: Should we preserve the
country’s Soviet-era system with its social perks, or should we create a
country which will be driven by market reforms?
And the final challenge was related to foreign policy. Kyrgyzstan was a small
country; now it was independent, and now it had to deal with enormous issues of
foreign policy. So the real challenge was, do we want to build an independent
foreign policy course, or should we stick to Russia?
So those were the challenges. Twenty years later, after two bloody ethnic
conflicts, two bloody revolutions, Kyrgyzstan has made full circle, and we’re
back at square one. We’re still dealing with the same challenges.
I’d like to basically address two questions here: why there has been no
progress; and the second, where might things end. To understand these – to
answer these questions, it’s important to look at the country’s history.
Now, there are various explanations to the question of why there has been no
progress. Some emphasize the country’s history again, saying that it’s the
nomadic past and its Soviet illiberal past that has made the country more
vulnerable to authoritarianism and political volatility. And then there are
those who say that, look, Kyrgyzstan is in a bad authoritarian neighborhood;
how can a democracy or system develop there? And then, there are those who
emphasize economic factors. They say that, look, the country is lacking
natural resources; just like its – unlike its neighbors, it does not have
resources, so it’s hard for its elites to create a very robust system.
I would say that the main problem of Kyrgyzstan, actually, has not been lack of
resources or other issues. I would say that – I emphasize the role of
leadership or lack of it as the major source of Kyrgyzstan’s troubles. The
major flaw of the Kyrgyz leaders was that they failed to find lasting solutions
or effective treatments for the four key ailments or challenges outlined above.
To be more precise, Kyrgyz leaders have continuously undermined stability by
engaging in systematic alteration of political rules and arrangements whenever
such rules did not suit their immediate political preferences. More
importantly, Kyrgyz leaders failed to realize their historic roles as the
founding fathers of the new nation and the responsibility that flows from such
Briefly, President Askar Akayev – let me elaborate just a little bit more –
President Askar Akayev, he was Thomas Jefferson of Central Asia. He
liberalized the country; he also ushered in economic reforms, but only to
change his course in the early 2000s, when the U.S. base – after the U.S. base
was established. This turnaround on his own policies helped to undermine his
People revolted against President Akayev. The president who came after him –
instead of learning the lessons of his predecessor, he continued this
authoritarian course. Rather than dealing with various political groups and
community members, and rather than really allowing – rather than dealing with
these four key challenges, he basically resorted to creating a very
So – and actually, I would say that in March 2005, it was an alliance of the
wealthy and the poor that toppled an authoritarian regime; in April 2010, it
was a combination of economic sanctions from Russia and protests by poor and
unemployed residents in such northern towns as Naryn and Talas. All this shows
that President Bakiyev, he failed to really create a debate or lead the country
to really resolve those four key ailments or challenges.
People who came after him, the provisional government, were not prepared to
assume power, lacking broad legitimacy and being driven by their survival
instinct. The new authorities engaged in chaotic and populist measures, such
as, you know, a reversal of utility tariffs imposed by the previous regime, and
so forth. But although they realized the need to address longstanding
transitional dilemmas, they lacked resources and the strategic direction. They
got their sequencing wrong in terms of dealing with the four challenges I
mentioned, despite various signals in April that ethnic tension was really
palpable. Authorities focused on the division of political power in Bishkek.
So as a result, when the ethnic conflict erupted in Osh, they were not
prepared. They lacked control over government security service, let alone
So where might things end? I would say that new leaders have made attempts to
resolve these longstanding dilemmas, transition dilemmas, but these efforts
have been half-hearted and ineffective. Let me describe why.
The first challenge, the division of powers, the parliament – the system of –
the parliamentary system is not supported by a lot of people. According to
recent polls, the majority of Kyrgyz citizens want to resort back to a
presidential system akin to Russia. Decision-makers in Russia are opposing
this parliamentary system; they have been critical of it. Some influential
politicians in the parliament, they want to change the constitution again.
The second challenge, forming a national identity – they’re not doing much,
actually. There is this assumption in Kyrgyzstan that, look, the Osh events
have resolved this identity crisis or challenge by establishing the
pre-eminence of the ethnic Kyrgyz and relegating ethnic minorities to a
secondary status positions. This view is supported by ethnic Uzbeks and
Kyrgyz. As one ethnic Uzbek told me, look, Uzbeks lost, the Kyrgyz won; now,
we’re secondary and there’ll be less conflict.
The government is not challenging this erroneous assumption. It’s basically
living with the status quo. And this is really promoting all these
nationalistic and chauvinistic forces and aggravating tensions. And rather
than deal with the conflict in a rather effective way, they are basically
adopting the Soviet-style tactic of sweeping the unpleasant events under the
rug and putting forward a mantra of friendship of peoples. This strategy is
flawed and it resembles the one adopted by Kyrgyz authorities after the June
So they’re also not addressing the third challenge, which is economy. Rather
than really promote a debate which would discuss this long-term problem, they
are again engaging in populist measures by increasing public spending, salaries
and continuing with these expensive construction projects.
Finally, the Kyrgyz authorities are again following the footsteps of their
predecessors in terms of indeterminate foreign policy. Their relations with
their neighbors are really bad. Uzbekistan is really pissed off or is livid
about the way Kyrgyz authorities dealt with the whole crisis. The Uzbeks are
concerned that the revolution will continue. Kazakhs are also unhappy with the
instability. Tajiks are also angry.
More importantly, Russians – Moscow is unhappy about Kyrgyzstan’s choice of
policy. And attacks against Russian business are not helping Kyrgyzstan’s
image in Russia. And Western partners are also becoming suspicious of all
these talks in Bishkek about changing the system again.
Finally, Kyrgyzstan finds itself at a crossroad. And so the Kyrgyz – the Osh
events, they took their toll, but they provide a window of opportunity to
finally tackle these four transition challenges. If the Kyrgyz citizens will
have this painful but important debate about how to solve these challenges, and
if this process will include all citizens, Kyrgyzstan is – will have, I would
say, a chance to become real – a real model for Central Asia. If they will
fail, Kyrgyzstan is set to continue with this revolutionary and painful ethnic
REP. SMITH: Dr. Khamidov, thank you very much for your testimony, and both –
Dr. Olcott. Thank you for your patience, too, because I know this has been a
long day. But frankly, the more we build this record, and we’re able to then
act upon it – and you provide incisive insights for us to act upon. So I thank
you for your written statements, your oral statements, which were extraordinary.
Let me just ask a couple of questions, and then we’ll conclude the hearing.
How would both you or either of you, or whoever wants to address this, assess
U.S. policy towards Kyrgyzstan, especially what happened June last year? Have
we responded well, robustly? Have we been asleep at the switch? How would you
– and secondly, on the issue of aid to southern Kyrgyzstan, has – is
reconstruction aid flowing there? Is – how much of it’s coming from the U.S.?
If you could answer those.
MR. KHAMIDOV: Yes, thank you, Martha.
MS. OLCOTT: (Chuckles.)
MR. KHAMIDOV: U.S. policy towards Kyrgyzstan after the violent events – I must
tell you, Mr. Chairman, that the United States has shown genuine interest in
Kyrgyzstan, its problems. And I think the people of Kyrgyzstan, they realize
it. The United States, among the first, condemned violence and called for
peace and took measures to stop it.
But there are also some problems with the U.S. policy. In the perceptions of
many Kyrgyzstanis, U.S. policy is not principled. There is this U.S. base and
then there are human rights, and the U.S. policy shifts between these two
More importantly, I would say that U.S. – the Kyrgyzstanis have this perception
of themselves as exceptional in the region because they were the first to
democratize. And so they think that they are the darling of the United States
and other Western countries. And this is the message that the U.S.
administration, namely, the Barack Obama administration, has fostered by
telling the Kyrgyz that, look, you are a model again; now you will be a model
for the Middle East. These kind of reassurances are useful, but they also
provide – they mislead Kyrgyz citizens. So I would say that U.S. policy has
its flaws and its positive aspects.
In terms of reconstruction efforts, I would tell you that a lot of donors have
adopted this policy of wait and see. They’re concerned; they’re not sure that
the money that they will allocate to Kyrgyzstan and its regions will be spent
properly. There is – there are concerns of transparency, mismanagement,
corruption. But they are ready to issue money. The World Bank, the U.S.
government – World Bank announced that its ready to approve a $70 million loan
in reconstruction and various projects.
REP. SMITH: If you could, before you – the shift in between (the base ?) and
human rights – have we had a consistent policy about torture and rape in the
prisons in pre-detention?
MR. KHAMIDOV: The United States has systematically criticized failures in
areas which you mention.
REP. SMITH: Thank you.
MS. OLCOTT: In terms of U.S. policy, I think the – I’m not as sure as you that
– I mean, I know we’ve had a systematic policy of criticizing rape and torture,
but I think abuse in the prison systems in Central Asia is not new. It came to
the forefront here because it was – the argument was, it was being – I hate to
be so brutally blunt – inequitably applied – that one group was being
brutalized more than another group, that Uzbeks were being disproportionately
arrested and they were being brutalized.
But I think that it would be a real mistake to see the Kyrgyz system as gentle
to Kyrgyz. It has been a brutal judicial system. There have been efforts made
to reform it; there have been periods in which reform went faster than others.
And I think the ambassador’s plea for more assistance in this area – you know,
I think U.S. assistance – there would be a capacity to soak up more democracy
assistance in the area of judicial reform and security system reform than is
likely to be on offer.
And I think that this is really – this is really an important focus that you
raise. It’s – there’s a difference between U.S. policy and the ability of the
U.S. to deliver large amounts of aid on projects that we all recognize as good
projects. As you know better than I, there are lots of competing demands on
every tax dollar today. And by comparison, the amount of money being spent in
Central Asia is very, very small.
And on top of the traditional difficulties of delivering anything other than
humanitarian assistance rapidly, what you had aggravating the situation in
Kyrgyzstan was the fact that you didn’t have a legitimate government for so
long. So you went months until you had the elections. And until the last set
of the October elections were completed, there wasn’t really a government that
was – that had the credentials to negotiate many of the larger international
financial loan agreements.
So there has been a slower process than people in country would like to see.
That’s not necessarily a criticism of us.
The last point I would make, though, is that there – one thing I think that the
Kyrgyz desperately need as they go into this election period is a greater sense
of awareness of what the economic realities that the country faces are. Part
of the victory of populism is that no one is really forced to be realistic in
their political rhetoric. They promise – there’s one person who was talking
about running for president who’s talked about raising the GDP to roughly
$9,000 a year, like a four-fold increase in a five-year period – it’s
impossible. But people can take these propositions as serious ones.
So in addition to talking about interethnic accord, I think if we want
democracy to succeed in Kyrgyzstan, we really have to talk about empowering an
electorate and a political elite at the lower levels – (chuckles) – of that
elite with more knowledge, with just – with working towards increasing the
level and quality of political debate.
One last comment about U.S. policy. I don’t know that we were asleep at the
switch, but the fact that we went through a period where we changed ambassadors
– you know, we had a period in which there was an ambassador at the end of the
term – (inaudible) – who was not a – in my opinion, it’s not my place to say –
but was not viewed in the polity as being terribly effective. And then, until
we got the new person out there, named and out there, that whole process was
once – took months and months. I mean, the new ambassador’s been out there
just under a month, you know? (Chuckles.) So I don’t think we were asleep at
the switch, but I do think that we have had – there are periods where we
could’ve been more effective.
Finally, I think it’s going to be a challenge for the U.S., as Kyrgyzstan
moves, if they hold presidential elections as scheduled, if they keep this
timetable and don’t experiment again with changing it – this policy has been
very much tied at the public level to Roza Otunbayeva as president. It’s a
weak presidency. She’s – as I said, she’s doing – you know, she’s using power
very, very effectively, but she doesn’t have very much power.
If the U.S. could – I think that U.S. policy has to be a policy that interacts
equally with all levels of the political establishment. Where power is, we
should be interacting directly; that means with the prime minister’s office and
the government and the parliament, where even if we don’t like some of the
things they do and we find them politically inexperienced, we really have to
get our message across to all these different people and find ways to interact,
because we run the risk, when President Otunbayeva’s term ends and a new person
replaces her, that we will be so identified with the current president and the
issues of the base that we will not have the kinds of levers to make a quick
adjustment to be effective in the country.
REP. SMITH: Thank you. The upcoming elections – your take on – I mean, will
these likely be positive? How will the tragedies of June play in those
elections, the campaigns? And, you know, given the people that are running,
where – what happens after post-election vis-à-vis the terrible tragedy?
MR. KHAMIDOV: Mr. Chairman, Kyrgyzstani political actors basically divided
into two camps: There are northern politicians, and then there are southern
politicians. Most of the southern politicians, they maintain close ties with
the regime of the former president, whereas a lot of northern politicians were
in the opposition. So really, the fight, or the struggle, is between these two
camps of politicians. There is this acting prime minister, Mr. Atambayev
Almazbek; he’s slated to run for presidency. And on the other side, in the
southern camp, there are also two or three candidates.
But the problem is that the – Mr. Kiljunen’s report, as well as the other
issues, have become caught up in this struggle between these two camps. It’s
not only Kimmo Kiljunen’s report, but also broad issues. The ones that I
mention, the four challenges, the (economy ?) – all of these are becoming
And I must tell you that many Kyrgyz citizens, they are very much driven by
this desire to have a strong leadership. And whoever is going to project
himself or herself, that will – that person will get votes.
There are also forces who want the current president to stay, because they’re
afraid that the struggle between these southern and northern camps may become
fatal. We’re talking about inter-Kyrgyz conflict. And so there are calls for
Otunbayeva to stay for one more year.
MS. OLCOTT: I agree. I wouldn’t bet my pension on the fact that there will be
an election in the fall. I mean, I think – and I’m not predicting revolution.
I think the situation, even in the south, is pretty stable right now. People
want quiet, if they can get it, which is one of the things that are pushing the
idea that people are beginning to float that maybe we should – maybe they
should wait a year for an election.
There’s also the question of changing the form of government. I think, in my
opinion, as soon as there is presidential elections, there will be a serious
call for constitutional reform that will leave a stronger presidency, a weaker
parliament, but still a – some form of power sharing that – I think there’s
enough support for parliamentary – some form of parliamentary power.
But I think it’s very difficult to, A, predict whether there won’t be popular
elite pressure as well as popular pressure for Roza Otunbayeva to stay – even
though she’s made it clear that’s not her intent, that she sees herself as a
transitional figure – to stay for another year or two years, whatever the
agreement is, and that part of that would be that there is a discussion of
constitutional reform. Again, there’s a big discussion now – do they have the
money for an election? Ms. Otunbayeva said yesterday that there will be new
candidates coming out.
I think that everybody in the elite would feel more comfortable moving towards
a presidential election if there were some sort of consensus around a
candidate, even in advance, and the belief that the election itself wouldn’t
serve to tear the country apart. And right now there’s no consensus. There
are several figures that are eager to run, and they are under enormous
political pressure, like Tajiyev (sp), who’s been a subject – one of the
southern politicians, been at risk of losing his parliamentary immunity and the
source of demonstrations in the south.
So there’s going to be this building of political tension – (chuckling) – over
the next days and months – and if – I think if the elite feels the tension is
at risk of overflowing, they will try to find ways to negotiate among
themselves to release it, because I think that nobody – there is no force –
there were forces – and I agree with Dr. Khamidov that there were key forces in
the country that were active in April and May of last year, and the government
didn’t read the situation right and didn’t move quickly – the (interim ?)
government, to stabilize the situation in the south in advance of these forces
being able to push beyond. I don’t think in the next year people are going to
make that mistake.
I think that the ending – it was painful to people ending the stalemate of the
last 20 years in the south. Nobody is going to be interested in ending this
much more fragile current stalemate in the south. So I think the election’s
become a real roll of the dice if they move forward. And it’ll be interesting
to see, as long as you don’t have – as long as you’re not living there in this
moment of great interest, it’ll be interesting to see what happens.
But I’m more confident that we’re not going to see a repetition of last June in
the next, immediate future. There are always unpredicted events that could
happen that would provoke it. If there was sudden destabilization in
Uzbekistan for some reason, that would again change – you know, if somebody
suddenly died, that would change the political balance. But given – in the
absence of something unforeseen, I’m personally optimistic that we have a
window in which to try to be more effective in working towards ethnic
consolidation or ethnic, you know, reconciliation.
REP. SMITH: Could I just ask you, with regards to the police and other
security personnel that have committed crimes against humanity or allegedly
have done so, are you confident that they will be held to account individually
and held – and put into prison, you know, for committing those crimes?
Secondly, President Bakiyev, as we all know, is keeping a relatively low
profile in Belarus, his current address. What residual influence does he have?
And we also hear that Kyrgyz officials and ordinary people have accused the
Uzbeks of seeking to create an autonomous region in Kyrgyzstan for Uzbeks. How
do you rate those accusations? Are they credible?
MS. OLCOTT: (Chuckles.) We’ll swap off.
In terms of whether people will be held accountable, I think that this
government and the president will make that attempt. If you’re asking me to
say whether they’ll succeed, you know, I think it is always hard to be
optimistic that people will succeed in getting an only partially reformed
judiciary to behave fully responsibly.
So I think that some people – I hope and think that a portion of those who
should be held responsible will be held responsible and that imperfection in
doing this will hopefully serve as an inhibiting example. (Chuckling.) I say
that as a realist who’s spent my whole adult life going to this region.
Bakiyev, the autonomous region – the question of Bakiyev lying low – to me, the
question – and this is another one of those topics that they talk about in the
report but they don’t talk about enough because it’s really hard both – it’s
very hard to get people to talk about organized crime, because people are
frightened of being killed. And so when you ask these questions or the
questions about Uzbek autonomy or any of those things, you’re going into this
area that people will talk about privately, but people are not comfortable
talking about on the record or giving evidence about.
I think that more important than the question is Bakiyev’s influence is the
presence of – there are still organized criminal groups in both countries, in
Uzbekistan, in Kyrgyzstan. They’ve been under much better control in
Uzbekistan. And under Kyrgyzstan, there were alliances between some of these
criminal groups and, if not the Bakiyev family, people who closely supported
This is still there, and that’s what I mean by keeping forces under wraps.
There’s nobody interested in inciting it.
When you talk about an autonomous region, I don’t ever believe that that was a
serious issue, that the Uzbeks of Kyrgyzstan, who are Kyrgyz citizens, who have
lived in their lives in Kyrgyzstan, ever had the goal of creating an autonomous
region of the Ferghana Valley dominated by ethnic Uzbeks. I think that when
people talk about this, they’re talking about it not hypothetically but more
elliptically; that what they’re really saying – and I can’t swear I’m right on
this – is that they’re frightened of organized crime groups at some point where
there’s regime change in Uzbekistan, whether there’s a transfer of power or
where the Uzbek regime seriously weakens, that organized crime groups might
join hands across borders and destabilize the whole area.
So yes, politicians use the rhetoric of autonomous Uzbekistan – an Uzbek region
there, but I think that’s – you know, I don’t see any evidence of it. But is
there a risk that destabilized Uzbekistan and destabilized southern Kyrgyzstan
could create a pocket of lawlessness with a lot of Uzbek crime bosses and no
shortage of Kyrgyz, Russian or Tajik crime bosses, either – this is a very
international organization – that, I think, is real, and not something that one
can ever put their hands on, because it’s just too dangerous to talk about, to
reveal the identities of people.
MR. KHAMIDOV: Let me answer briefly. Regarding responsibility of security
forces, central government finds itself in a bind. If they move with
prosecution of the security forces, they will not have people who will support
their regime. They are very weak. They are still fragile. Their control is
still fragile, especially in the southern regions.
And then there’s this issue of who is not clean. You know, everybody has a
fault in the Osh violence – the security services, the provisional government.
So if they really bring to accountability some security forces, there is this
question of what about you? You are also complicit in those things.
Regarding Bakiyev, he’s toxic, meaning like – nobody wants to (fill it ?) with
him. He’s finished. I mean, one of the interesting things about Kyrgyz
politics is that once people are removed from power, they are nobodies,
actually, so they don’t have much influence, except for money that they have
perhaps pocketed and that they can ship to some people there.
Regarding Uzbek autonomy or claims of autonomy, I’ve had many conversations
with the Uzbeks, and they tell me, like, look, we lived in this country; they
played a bad trick with us. If they – the Kyrgyz leaders – told us from the
very beginning that, look, you are living in a Kyrgyz republic, just stop
pushing for political rights, we would have gladly accepted it or, just like in
Uzbekistan, we’re asking the Kyrgyz to accept the Uzbek domination. And the
Uzbeks are saying that – but they didn’t do that. They say that the Kyrgyz
government has allowed a lot of freedoms, they promoted ethnic minority rights,
and that kind of encouraged to be more demanding of certain political rights.
As a result, this policy led to a collision with various nationalistic groups.
REP. SMITH: Thank you, Doctor.
Let me just ask one final question, but I would like to let the record know
(sic) that Ambassador Djumaliev has stayed throughout this entire hearing.
We’ve had hearings before where, as soon as their panel, the ambassador’s
panel, was over, they’re out the door. So I thank you for that, for that
courtesy and again for appearing here today.
One final question with regards to the U.N. Human Rights Council, as to whether
or not they have listed this as an item for investigation and action to hold
Kyrgyzstan to account – have they done anything, as far as you know?
MS. OLCOTT: (I have no idea ?).
REP. SMITH: And if not, why not? Any idea?
MR. : No.
REP. SMITH: OK. We’ll pursue that and try to get an answer from the Human
Rights Council., because it seems to me, when the council was formed to replace
the largely discredited Human Rights Commission, which only focused on Israel
and more Israel and Israel and then some more Israel, it was – we had promises
that there would be very serious scrutinizing of nations, not just when they do
periodic reviews, which all nations ultimately have to undergo, but when crises
like this erupt. And you – hopefully, you know, it’s never too late –
(chuckles) – for them to undertake such a – an investigation, which will, I
think, aid the efforts to give a full accounting and hopefully hold those who
have committed crimes to account.
Anything you would like to add before we conclude? Again, I want to thank you
for your very, very fine, incisive commentary and analysis. It is of
extraordinary value to the commission, and I want to thank all of you.
The hearing’s adjourned.