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Human rights group accuses Kyrgyz police of abuses against ethnic Uzbeks

Kyrgyz police in the ethnically fragile south of the country have allegedly tortured and killed an Uzbek man, a leading human rights group has said.


The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the death highlighted police brutality against Uzbeks which independent reports have said contributed to ethnic violence last June in and around the city of Osh. The authorities in Kyrgyzstan have denied these allegations.

Street battles in June 2010 killed more than 400 people, mainly Uzbeks, and forced thousands more to flee their homes. An uneasy peace has held since then but observers say that more ethnic violence simmers just below the surface.

Now HRW has said in a statement that Kyrgyz police beat to death Osmonjon Khalmurzaev, an ethnic Uzbek with Russian citizenship.

“Khalmurzaev’s torture in police custody and his subsequent death are harrowing examples of the extent of corruption and impunity in Kyrgyzstan’s law enforcement,” Hugh Williamson, the HRW Europe and Central Asia director, said in the statement.

HRW said the local authorities have opened an investigation into Khalmurzaev’s death.

The HRW statement alleged policemen strapped a gas mask to Mr Khlamurzaev’s face and started punching him until he slumped to the floor unconscious. They alledgedly continued to torture him for several hours and tried to extort money from him.

Mr Khalmurzaev paid the police $680 to go free, HRW said, but he died in a local hospital a couple of days later on August 9 from his injuries.

HRW has documented several deaths already this year of Uzbeks in police custody.

“Torture is a widespread problem in Kyrgyzstan, but Khalmurzaev’s death exposed the particular vulnerability of ethnic Uzbeks to arbitrary detention, torture and police extortion in the wake of the June 2010 interethnic violence,” HRW said in its statement.

Filed in: World News

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