Kyrgyzstan’s Forgotten Revolution

Published June 18, 2011
By Annie Janus
Failed States Index 2011
With much of the world’s attention turned to the Arab Spring, Kyrgyzstan’s 2010 revolution seems to have been forgotten. Nevertheless, Kyrgyzstan’s politically tumultuous year has seen it worsen significantly in the Failed States Index, moving from 45th position to a more serious 31st, and into the Alert category.

Kyrgyzstan’s worsening in this year’s index reflects dramatic reversals in several scores that tend to indicate the state’s susceptibility to internal conflict, and as such, these worsening scores are largely are result of the 2010 revolutions.

For instance, Kyrgyzstan’s group grievance score, which has been relatively high for several years, surged 0.9 points, from 7.4 in 2010 up to 8.3 in 2011. What is particularly troubling about this score is that group tensions between the majority Kyrgyz and the minority Uzbeks have not waned; indeed, efforts to mitigate them and seek justice for the crimes committed during the revolution’s ensuing revolts appear to intensify them.

In May 2011, the Kyrgyz Inquiry Commission, which was tasked with investigating the violence between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in June 2010, released its official report. The Commission found that the interethnic violence, in which the Uzbeks experienced 90 percent of the property losses and 75 percent of the causalities, concluded that the conflict did not qualify as genocide. Although the Commission averred that the Uzbeks were disproportionately attacked and may have suffered crimes against humanity, the Uzbeks object to the report’s findings.

Reconciliation efforts are also hampered by the aggressive revenge-seeking behavior of the victim’s relatives, most of whom are Uzbek. Many have engaged in threatening judges, lawyers, and defendants involved in the trials for crimes committed during the revolts. As Kyrgyzstan’s high group grievance reflects, the history of violence against the Uzbeks and their response to the Commission’s report leaves Kyrgyzstan vulnerable to a resurgence of violence by revenge-seeking relatives and victims who do not feel adequately compensated for past atrocities.

Kyrgyzstan’s Legitimacy of the State score, which rose to nine in this year’s index, is another indicator that can be considered to have worsened due to the 2010 revolutions. Over the past three years, this indicator has progressively risen, but its most dramatic increase occurred between 2010 to 2011.

Last year’s revolution drastically affected Kyrgyzstan’s stability and has left the country with many challenges ahead of it. Upcoming elections threaten to aggravate preexisting tensions and could cast the country into another state of turmoil. Ensuring peaceful elections and shoring up the nation’s stability will require effective reconciliation efforts and increasing civil liberties so that all Kyrgyzstan citizens feel politically recognized, represented, and respected.