Seven prominent ethnic Uzbeks who fled Kyrgyzstan in the wake of violent clashes have called on new Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov to revisit the investigations and consequences of the fighting that erupted in southern Kyrgyzstan in June 2010.
The clashes -- between ethnic Kyrgyz and ethnic Uzbeks -- are now referred to euphemistically by most in Kyrgyzstan as the "June events."
They are a deep wound that has never healed, in part because people in Kyrgyzstan seem to avoid talking about them. Even Jeenbekov, who at the time was the acting governor of Osh Province, an epicenter of the violence, might prefer other topics.
But many unresolved issues remain, and this call from people who were once leaders in their communities is a reminder that the past cannot be left behind indefinitely.
The businessmen say a fresh review of the events of eight years ago, notably the case of ethnic Uzbek journalist and rights activist Azimjon Askarov, has also been called for by several international organizations (including the Committee To Protect Journalists, Human Rights Watch (HRW), and Amnesty International) and the UN Human Rights Committee.
The group asked that a "competent structure" be created, comprising representatives from various communities in Kyrgyzstan and the international community to revisit legal decisions made in the months that followed the June violence.
Kadyrjan Batyrov was one of the authors of the appeal. Batyrov was an entrepreneur from Jalal-Abad Province. He was the founder and owner of the People’s Friendship University in Jalal-Abad city. The university was heavily damaged during the violence. Authorities accused Batyrov of orchestrating the violence, which he denies. He fled the country. Authorities in Kyrgyzstan have issued an international warrant for his arrest.
It will be interesting to see if the Kyrgyz president responds to the plea.
His predecessor, Almazbek Atambaev, largely rejected international calls for new investigations. Some of the constitutional changes approved in Kyrgyzstan’s December 2016 referendum hinted at a right to disregard decisions of organizations such as the United Nations.
Atambaev, who was elected president in 2011, did not appear to want to reopen the wounds of June 2010.
There is probably no topic in Kyrgyzstan as polarizing as the June Events. Some feel justice has already been done; others feel they were and still are victims.
Many people have written about the causes and the consequences of the June Events, myself included.
The Uzbek community leaders timed the release of their appeal to coincide with the anniversary of the outbreak of the violence on June 10.
Jeenbekov was at a Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in China at the time, but the call from the Uzbek group will not have escaped his notice.
It’s an important issue and one that is likely to hang over every Kyrgyz president until it is brought into the open.