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Central Asia news

Kyrgyzstan: People are condemned for unusual call to prayer and call for help

30.09.2010 09:53 msk


Ferghana Valley Kyrgyzstan

4 local residents were convicted in the Kara-Suu district, Osh Oblast of Kyrgyzstan, for alleged incitement of ethnic hatred in the night of June 11, 2010. Also allegedly, they were using the religious faith places – the minarets of the mosques.


Bishkek-based AKIpress agency reports with the reference to the source in the district office of public prosecutor that, using the loudspeakers, Zhamalidin Isakov and Abdymukhtar Shukurov urged the local residents "not to sleep but to prepare for fight" in the Nurdar village, the Nariman rural area of the Kara-Suu district. Nurmukhammad Matraimov and Yuldoshbay Kyrgyzbaev did the same in the mosque of the Kashkar-Kyshtak rural area.

Meanwhile, according to Azattyk (Kyrgyz Service of RFE/RL), referring to the judge of the Kara-Suu district court, all four of them were accused of untimely reading of azan (call in the Muslim pray) that, in the opinion of prosecution, meant the call for violence.

The criminal cases against these people were filed under Kyrgyz Criminal Code: article 233 ("Call for mass riots") and 299 ("The incitement of religious, race, national hostility"). All four of them were sentenced to 4 years of imprisonment in the penal colony settlement.

Neither AKIpress nor Azattyk specified which of the conflict parties – Uzbek or Kyrgyz community – were called by these people for riots.

It has to be mentioned that the text of azan (prayer) is a standard one. It is designated for all Muslims regardless of ethnic identity: Kyrgyz, Uzbeks and representatives of other nationalities go to ,same mosques in Kyrgyzstan. Another thing is that if it was used as the signal for someone. Who this someone was is still a question.

Osh, June, 2010. Photo by Ferghana.Ru news agency

Ferghana.Ru could not reach the court or office of Public Prosecutor in the Kara-Suu district in order to clarify information.


It has to be mentioned that brainstorming about the reasons and instigators of the tragic conflict, which took place in southern Kyrgyzstan, on July 27 Kyrgyz Ombudsman Tursunbek Akun said: "We know now that Uzbeks were the first to attack. It was well organized. In the night of June 10-11 there were fireworks in mahallahs (Uzbek residential areas) while at 2am there was azan (call for prayer) that is usually announced at 5.15am". In the opinion of the Ombudsman, these calls by the ethnic Uzbeks became the signal to start the riots. On the other hand, there are still no official results of the investigation of riots in Osh and Jalal-Abad.

In the mean time, Open Position public foundation interviewed people, living in the area of the mosque that was the platform for untimely call for prayer in the night of June 10-11.

"The elders, reading azan in Osh, did not call for riots", 24.kg quotes Dmitry Kabak, the head of Open Position foundation. He informed that according to the interviewed people, on contrary, muezzins were trying to warn people about upcoming threat.

"The respondents said that azan was announced after they heard shots. They affirmed that muezzins stated the following: "People, come out, the big danger is coming!" Dmitry Kabak underlined.

The same version was mentioned in the comments (to Ferghana.Ru) of Dilyor Djumabaev, the Kara-Suu resident and Hizb ut-Tahrir party activist: "I personally heard nothing since I live far from that place. But I was told that one hour after the start of the clashes muezzins informed about riots and called people to stay alerted, protect families and homes. I was also told that muezzins announced the same in the areas, populated by Kyrgyz, but this is not mentioned anywhere".

Osh, June, 2010. Photo by Ferghana.Ru news agency

Ferghana.Ru sources report that the rumors about such actions by Muslim Uzbeks were actively disseminated in the southern Kyrgyzstan, seriously annoying ethnic Kyrgyz. At the same time, no "witness" of the events could definitely say which words were used by muezzins.

The rumors about untimely azan-signal perturbed the part of population. Along with stories, saying that Uzbek guys raped Kyrgyz girls in the dormitory of Osh State University, the untimely signal of muezzins were interpreted as one of the major reasons of the clashes and instigated the revenge. It is worth mentioning that on July 27 Aziza Abdurasulova, the human rights advocate and the member of state committee for investigation of southern events, confirmed that the rumors about raping the female students were false. She said that she personally interviewed the girls, staying the dormitory on that night, and guards that refuted such rumors and said that students were in the safe place. The official denial from the President of the university was broadcasted by National TV channel and it was also confirmed by the deputy Prosecutor General.

It has to be mentioned that religious department of Muslims of Kyrgyzstan knows nothing about condemned muezzins and their "fault". At least the anonymous deputy supreme mufti Ulug Umar aji said so in the interview to Ferghana.Ru. "This is news to me. Where do such bad rumors come from? – he asked. – These are provocative rumors".


Another group of ethnic Uzbeks were accused of the actions that seemingly evidenced their role as the victims of the attack, but not the instigators of intercommunity hatred.

AKIpress said that the same Kara-Suu district court sentenced two residents of Kashrak-Kyshtak Uktomzhan Akhmatzhanov and Islamzhan Khusanov to three years of jail. Their alleged fault is that on June 12 they wrote down "SOS" at the fence of private premises. In the opinion of investigators, this was done with the purpose to spark interethnic clashes - "this way [these people] turned Uzbeks against Kyrgyz", while the call for help was the sign for military forces of the Republic of Uzbekistan that, allegedly, must have been coming to rescue Uzbeks. The court approved such conclusions of the investigators. Therefore, with the help of Kyrgyz legal system the international signal for help turned into the accusation instrument against the people in danger.

Osh, June, 2010. Photo by Ferghana.Ru news agency

There are reasons to have doubts about the decisions, made by Kyrgyz judges. The human rights advocates and lawyers several times mentioned the despotism, demonstrated in the detention facilities of Kyrgyzstan, where people are forced to give confessionary statements, used as evidences in the courts; one of Kyrgyz lawyers told Ferghana.ru: "this is what we have. Therefore, they [investigators and judges] do not look for other evidences. Confess and that is it".

"This is it! – My clients were exposed to physical violence in the detention centers. The investigators assaulted them and put plastic bags to their heads. The lawyers are allowed to see the clients after 3-4 days when they are already demoralized and confirm all charges against them", said the lawyer.

Even if the person continues to deny charges against him and the prosecution side cannot provide evidences he will be convicted in any case. The example is Azimzhan Askarov, the human rights advocate and ethnic Uzbek, that was sentenced to imprisonment for life.


Whoever does not want to see the ethnic reason in the current events in southern Kyrgyzstan, it does exist. Unofficial sources prove that nearly all investigators are ethnic Kyrgyzstan while pretrial detention centers are full of Uzbeks. "I am a lawyer, but I never heard that Uzbeks were acknowledged as victims. Perhaps, I have wrong information", said Ferghana.Ru interviewee. May be. The point is that his words are confirmed by the reports of such international organizations as Human Rights Watch that is concerned about domination of Uzbek nationals among the detained people and warned that continuous violent arrests and victimizations may lead to further destabilization of tense situation in southern Kyrgyzstan.

"During the conversation one of the law enforcement officers made it clear that he does not want to take Kyrgyz because it may produce new clashes. In two districts, mainly populated by ethnic Kyrgyz , policemen said that they detained not a single Kyrgyz. Five lawyers (both Kyrgyz and Uzbeks) informed us that after June pogroms all their clients are ethnic Uzbeks", says Human Rights Watch.

In such situation it is necessary to bring independent forces since it looks like that investigators and judges face challenging situation; perhaps, they do not want objectiveness to rule over "the voice of blood". On September 20 the President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov urged to conduct international investigation. Few days ago US President Barack Obama urged Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbaeva to approve the start of international commission for investigation of reasons of tragic event and launch of the OSCE police consulting group (52 people); it has to be mentioned that Osh authorities strongly oppose it. Will Bishkek listen to Tashkent and New York?

The reaction of official government and president on the decisions of judges in southern Kyrgyzstan is still unknown. Today, the new government is more concerned not by the search of organizers of Osh riots, but settling the accounts with previous regime. Thus, Bishkek files the criminal cases against the judges of the Constitutional court on falsification of elections and referendum results in 2007 and 2009; the government is going to cancel the immunity of the first President of Kyrgyzstan Askar Akaev. Apparently, Bishkek is not concerned much with what Themis is doing in southern Kyrgyzstan.

Prepared by Feruza Djani