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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Rights group calls for inquiry into Kyrgyzstan violence
Michael Kraemer at 1:14 PM ET

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[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] on Monday urged [press release] Kyrgyzstan's interim government to begin a comprehensive investigation into the violence [JURIST report] between April 6 and 8 that resulted in the overthrow of president Kurmanbek Bakiyev [BBC profile]. After conducting witness interviews and examining photo and video evidence, HRW concluded [report text] that the violence was fueled by the actions of both security forces and demonstrators and called on the government to officially request assistance from the international community to "help to safeguard against accusations of bias" in the probe. HRW claims that authorities committed several violations of international law, which stipulates that lethal force may only be used as a last resort, citing in particular the alleged shooting of an unarmed man seeking to negotiate. The interim government is currently planning to try [JURIST report] members of Bakiyev's family and administration on charges that include corruption and human rights violations.

Kyrgyz interim leader Roza Otunbayeva [Telegraph profile] said last week that Bakiyev should stand trial [JURIST report] for the recent violence. Despite the pledge to bring Bakiyev and his allies to justice, so far only former defense minister Baktybek Kaliyev has been arrested [AFP report]. It is believed that Bakiyev is currently in Belarus, and interim officials have said they will seek extradition to bring him before their courts. The protests, prompted in part by a drastic increase in utility costs, led to at least 84 deaths [Reuters report] and many more injuries. Earlier this month, Otunbayeva launched the interim government [JURIST report] after the violence forced Bakiyev to flee the capital. The protests came just one week after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] urged Kyrgyzstan to protect all forms of human rights [JURIST report], including "free speech and freedom of the media."

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