A government anti-terrorism campaign in southern Kyrgyzstan appears to be widening the inter-ethnic divide in the Central Asian country.
In recent weeks, Kyrgyz security forces have engaged in hundreds of search-and-seizure operations, arresting dozens of ethnic Uzbeks. Security officials contend that the raids have led to the recovery of explosives and propaganda material published by extremist organizations, and have disrupted terror cells that were supposedly plotting future attacks.
In response, representatives of southern Kyrgyzstan's sizable Uzbek minority accuse Kyrgyz authorities of discrimination in the planning and execution of the security sweep. In addition, some Kyrgyz observers are voicing alarm over the fact that Kyrgyz officials are carrying out anti-terrorism activities in cooperation with the hard-line government of neighboring Uzbekistan. Since the Andijan events of May 2005, Uzbek authorities have pursued policies designed to stamp out freedom of speech and religious expression. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].
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Alisher Khamidov Alisher Khamidov is a PhD Candidate at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of Johns Hopkins University in Washington D.C. Alisher Saipov is an independent journalist based in Osh and a frequent contributor to Ferghana.Ru information website.