Christian Aid Groups Press Kyrgyzstan Gov't to Launch Probe After Violence

( [email protected] ) Jul 05, 2010 01:08 PM EDT

An alliance of Christian humanitarian groups is pressing the government of Kyrgyzstan to launch an investigation into the recent civil conflict that left over a half-million people in immediate need of food, water, shelter, and medical care.

“The civil conflict in southern Kyrgyzstan, which erupted in the first half of June, was characterized by extreme violence, hatred and cruelty,” stated leaders of the ACT Alliance, including the heads of DanChurchAid, Christian Aid, and ICCO en Kerkinactie.

“Women, children, elderly and men of different ethnic groups, in particular Kyrgyz and Uzbek, are still traumatized by what they have experienced in these past weeks, including loss of loved ones and reports of rape,” they added in their statement Thursday.

For around two weeks, deadly rampages had gripped southern Kyrgyzstan, set off by the torching of homes and businesses in ethnic Uzbek neighborhoods by mobs of ethnic Kyrgyz on June 10.

According to the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR), an estimated 200,000 people were displaced within Kyrgyzstan and up to 100,000 fled across the border to Uzbekistan. Hundreds of homes, meanwhile, were destroyed, forcing thousands to live in makeshift conditions.

Though the situation now reportedly appears calm and more stable since the constitutional referendum on June 27, tensions continue and violent acts – including killings and kidnappings – are still reported from southern Kyrgyzstan, according to ACT.

Furthermore, in its statement Thursday, the global network of churches and related aid organizations emphasized that “there will not be reconciliation without justice, and that justice is based on all facts, which give an objective picture of what has happened.”

“The international community, together with the Kyrgyz government, must take the lead and establish an independent body to investigate the recent events in Kyrgyzstan,” ACT leaders stated. “In doing so, it needs to move quickly to avoid further harm, which is presently being stimulated by the abuse or careless handling of materials documenting abuses.”

Among its recommendations, ACT leaders called upon the provisional government and the international community to move quickly to set up an independent investigation body, which they said “by its composition, can be accepted by all sides of the conflict as a trustworthy, impartial authority.” They also urged the government and international community to widely communicate the establishment and working process of the body, and to avoid political statements in favor of one ethnic group in the conflict until the independent body has completed its work.

"These statements endanger opportunities for reconciliation and risk further escalations of tensions and violence in Kyrgyzstan," the leaders insisted.

The statement was signed by John Nduna, general secretary of the ACT Alliance; Jan van Doggenaar, international program director for ICCO en Kerkinactie; Henrik Stubkjaer, general secretary of DanChurchAid; and Paul Valentin, international director of Christian Aid.

All organizations are currently working with local partners to deliver aid to people in need of assistance.