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Ethnic Uzbeks Stoke Unrest in Southern Kyrgyzstan

While Kyrgyz supporters of arrested Parliament member Azimbek Beknazarov demonstrated in front of Jalalabad's regional court on June 25 and police moved to keep protestors out of central Osh the next day, another constituency has been developing its own agenda. Ethnic Uzbeks are intensifying their demands for more political rights and representation in the new Kyrgyz government. They seek, among other things, a constitutional amendment that would designate Uzbek as a state language on par with Kyrgyz. But President Askar Akayev's government remains wary of such demands. They fear that Uzbek solidarity could lead to claims for autonomy and escalation of ethnic tension in south Kyrgyzstan, where Uzbeks outnumber ethnic Kyrgyz by nearly two to one in some places.

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Alisher Khamidov is currently a Muskie Fellow graduate student at the Joan B. Kroc Institute of Peace Studies at Notre Dame University.

Ethnic Uzbeks Stoke Unrest in Southern Kyrgyzstan

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