With shops, schools and even nightclubs in southern Kyrgyzstan re-opening, daily life in the strife-torn region is slowly assuming a veneer of normalcy. But a recent melee, which erupted at the trial of ethnic Uzbeks accused in connection with the death of a Kyrgyz police officer during last June's violent clashes, offers a reminder that social conditions in southern Kyrgyzstan remain combustible.
The trouble occurred during a September 2 hearing in the Jalal-abad Region for the eight Uzbek defendants, including Azimjon Askarov, a prominent local journalist and human rights advocate. According to eyewitness accounts, angry spectators insulted, threatened and physically attacked the defendants, their lawyers and their family members while police and court officials stood by. The confrontation was split along ethnic lines. Most of the attackers were believed to be Kyrgyz relatives of the dead police officer.
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