HRW denounces alleged war crimes in the border conflict between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan

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The NGO urges the competent authorities to investigate the violations, and demand justice and reparation for the families


The NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) has denounced on Tuesday alleged war crimes perpetrated by the Armed Forces of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in the border conflict that took place in September 2022 that resulted in dozens of deaths.

The organization, which has published a report recounting the Human Rights violations committed from September 14 to 17, has urged the competent authorities to investigate the crimes, as soldiers fired at ambulances and cars carrying civilians, killing civilians. .

“Civilians living in the disputed border areas of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan paid a heavy price for the callous conduct of Kyrgyz and Tajik forces during clashes last September,” said Jean-Baptiste Gallopin, Senior Crisis and Conflict Researcher. from Human Rights Watch.

Thus, he added that “the families of the victims deserve justice and reparations to pave the way towards a resolution that respects the rights of this ongoing dispute.”

“On both sides of the border, civilians said they desperately want the cycle of conflict and abuse to end. To help ensure a peaceful resolution, both governments must commit to protecting civilians and respecting human rights,” Gallopin said. .

HRW has documented the death of 37 civilians, including five children, as well as 36 wounded on both sides, despite reports that the balance was 51 fatalities and 121 wounded. In addition, 130,000 people were displaced in Kyrgyzstan, of whom 4,000 had not returned to their homes by January this year.

To carry out the study, the human rights organization has interviewed more than 80 people from both sides of the border, including survivors, witnesses or relatives of victims. The researchers visited the affected villages, examined ammunition remains and analyzed images.

On the other hand, the NGO sent a series of questions to both governments, Kyrgyzstan responded only to attacks against its citizens –not those that involved its forces–, while Tajikistan did not respond to any of HRW’s requests.

The Government of Kyrgyzstan announced on September 25 an agreement with the authorities of Tajikistan to put an end to the border conflict that included the dismantling of a total of eight checkpoints, four for each country, thus establishing that in these areas no there was no military or civilian presence.

But tensions stem from the fact that the border was never fully demarcated after the two countries’ independence in 1991, so it has been the scene of small-scale clashes on numerous occasions. Since the last escalation of tensions –September 2022– the governments have engaged in renewed negotiations to delineate the disputed border areas, but have not yet reached an agreement.

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Written by Editor TLN

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