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Commission Calls 1916 Tsarist Mass Killings Of Kyrgyz Genocide

A public commission in Kyrgyzstan has concluded that Tsarist Russia's mass crackdown on an uprising by Kyrgyz in 1916 was genocide.

The commission's head, Azimbek Beknazarov, told reporters that his commission's conclusion on August 15 was based on data retrieved from archives provided by Russian and Chinese authorities.

During World War I, Russia decided to draft indigenous peoples of Central Asia into the army as unarmed workers who would build trenches and fortifications.

Many Kyrgyz and Kazakhs refused to go and openly rebelled against Russian authorities.

It is believed that between 100,000 and 270,000 ethnic Kyrgyz were killed by Tsarist Russia's punitive battalions, as hundreds of thousands of others fled to the neighboring Chinese province of Xinjiang.

The deadly events in Kyrgyzstan in 1916 were not mentioned in Soviet textbooks, while a similar uprising in Kazakhstan was described as a revolt against local feudal overlords and the Russian tsar that contributed to the victory of Russian communists in 1917.

In April, Russian State Duma chairman Sergei Naryshkin rejected the genocide allegations in regard to the uprisings, saying that "all nations suffered 100 years ago."

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