The conflicts at Kyrgyz-Uzbek border became more frequent
Uzbek border guards are on the alert for the territory of neighboring state. Photo by Ferghana.Ru
Another incident took place at the border between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan: Uzbek border guards wounded and captivated Kyrgyz colleague at the marginal area of Mombekov frontier post, the Jalal-Abad border detachment.
According to press-office of Kyrgyz Border Service, on January 17 during the service at the border four Kyrgyz military officers located two Uzbek border guards near Chek settlement on Kyrgyz side. The short conversation resulted in the conflict.
The group of 9-10 observers, the citizens of Uzbekistan, showered stones on Kyrgyz guards. Few minutes later, another Uzbek patrol arrived and inflicted fire damage without prior notice. One of the Kyrgyz border guards was wounded and taken by Uzbek soldiers. At the moment, Kyrgyz side is taking the appropriate measures to investigate the reasons of the conflict and take the captivated border guard back.
It has to be mentioned that the conflicts at Uzbek-Kyrgyz border are frequent events. Ordinarily Uzbek media pay no attention to them but in 2010 two of them broke with the precedent.
In the first days of new year Uzbek TV channels in Ferghana valley amazed the audience with "open" coverage of the border conflict that took place on January 2, 2010. The Namangan Oblast TV company showed the professional video, close to journalistic investigation. Later on this video was shown in Andijan.
According to Uzbek journalists, on January 2, 2010 Iliaz Alymkulov and Askarbek uulu Daniyar, the border guards from Alabuka border detachment of Kyrgyzstan, entered Uzbekistan, trying to reach Uzbek girl that was pasturing the cattle. Kyrgyz guards demanded to give up the frontier crosser. The local dwellers disarmed the guards that spent few days in the local police office.
The witness Bakhtier Mirzaboev affirmed that Kyrgyz soldiers were going to take cattle to Kyrgyz territory with the purpose to demand ransom.
Ilhom Haitov, another resident of the village, said the Kyrgyz senior sergeant, who arrived in the place of incident, left his soldiers. Overall, the interviewees imply that "these bad border guards cannot undermine century-long friendship between two nations".
According TV channel, Kyrgyz border guards enjoyed good treatment in Uzbek police office. Both of them said that sergeant Sultanov forced them to cross the border.
At the same days Namanganskaya Pravda wrote: "Needless to say, the seizure of Uzbek cattle became normal action for Kyrgyz border guards that use power to extort money from peaceful Uzbek civilians".
In the first days, following the incident, Kyrgyz Border Service refused to comment on situation, referring to official holidays. On January 8, Uzbek authorities freed Kyrgyz border guards. Later on Cholponbek Turusbekov, the deputy Head of Border Service, provided official comments:
- At the moment the soldier are back in Kyrgyzstan. – Turusbekov shared – Their health condition is ok and there are no physical injuries. One of them is in the hospital because he was wounded by shovel".
According the Border Service deputy Head, the current situation is stable at the border. However, we were not able to learn what happened to those soldiers and sergeant.
- We have to be ready to the incidents at this sector – Cholponbek Turusbekov noted. – The local authorities of both states must work with population. Until the border demarcation and delimitation is over such issues will continue to emerge.
Unlike other border areas, where Uzbekistan was digging anti-tank ditches, this area is relatively unsecured so that even little kid can cross it with no problem. The locals see the reason of such selective approach in the Uzbek water reservoir, located near the border with Kyrgyz Republic. The anonymous district official said that after one of many incidents the local dwellers wanted to attack Uzbek team that guards the dam."This is not the solution" he said.
Commenting on the video, broadcasted by Uzbek TV channels, the official was filled with indignation. "To be honest, both sides are involved in the extortions. However, it is very impudent and cynical to blame Kyrgyz side only".
Today, at least three republican and five regional Uzbek TV channels cover southern Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyz side can only offer two national and 3-4 local channels that cover certain districts.
The major reason of the incidents is livestock – says Elena Ivanova, the local human rights activist and Head of Egida-Shans public foundation. – There are no borders for livestock. Kyrgyz residents in the village often times complained that they had to pay money to Uzbek border guards to get their livestock back.
Turusbekov also says that the residents of Uzbek village often times cross the border in order to saturate their livestock at the river at Kyrgyz territory. This was the reason for the detention of Kyrgyz border guards. He said that, stating that Kyrgyz border guards wanted to take away her cow, Uzbek woman realized she illegally crossed the border.
In the opinion of Elena Ivanova, the only solution of continuous conflicts is the erection of fences and ditches. However, there have been many cases when parts of the houses of one country nationals were located in the territory of another republic. Ivanova also shares there are four village districts, bordering Uzbekistan: Aktaly, Akkurgan, Pervomay and Baltagulov. Each one of them has its own "rules".
The locals pay 250 Uzbek sum or 5-10 Kyrgyz som ($1=44 som) per person to both Kyrgyz and Uzbek border guards at Aktaly checkpoint for illegal transfer to another side. In the opinion of Elena Ivanova, the situation is deteriorated by both sides, especially by Uzbek soldiers in the Pervomay village district.
Similar case with the exemption of submachine guns took place few years ago in the Nooken district of the Jalal-Abad Oblast: in the Kyrgyz village of Aral two Uzbek border guards demanded the kickback from Kyrgyz civilians. Demonstrating intrepidity, Kyrgyz civilians were able to take them to the local police office.
Despite obvious reasons of the incidents at Kyrgyz-Uzbek border the roots of the conflicts go back to many years ago.
After the completion of national-territorial demarcation in 1924-1927 the changes in the border map were not legally documented. This is how the exclaves emerged both in Kyrgyz and Uzbek territories. After gaining independence, such uncertainty, unnoticeable in the friendly Soviet times, turned into threat for territorial integrity and political stability in the region. Only in 2008 there were 21 border incidents. Here is the conflict record for 2009:
April: Under the pretext of counter-terrorist operation 40 armed border guards and soldiers of Uzbekistan ran the inspection of residential houses in the disputed village of Chek. The search was carried out only in the homes of Kyrgyz citizens, accompanied by bad language.
May: Uzbek border guards centered fire on the vehicle, crossing the enclave of Sokh. Unknown people attacked the checkpoint in Khanabad, the Andijan Oblast.
June: Uzbek side unilaterally started digging the anti-tank ditches. 29-year old Ulugbek Usmanov, the citizen of Kyrgyz Republic, was shot by the Uzbek border guard during his attempt to illegally cross the border.
July: At the Boz-Adyr border area Uzbek citizens assaulted two citizens of Kyrgyzstan. The residents of Khushiar Uzbek village arbitrally dismantled the pipeline, supplying the water to the Kyrgyz village of Charbak.
The conflicts will continue until the borders of two states are cleared up and both republics adopt rigorous development and security programs. The point is that victims and hostages will be represented by common people, far from unclear geopolitical interests and strategic plans of their governments. All they want is not to be concerned about lives of the relatives and ones of their own.
Irina Dudka, Bishkek