Kyrgyzstan/Tajikistan conflict: FIDH and members call for urgent investigation into humanitarian and human rights violations

Май 06.2021

From 28 April to May 1, an armed conflict took place in the Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan borderland, leading to 52 deaths, over 300 others injured, mass displacement, and destruction of civilians’ homes. The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), together with 12 of its member organisations from Eastern Europe and Central Asia, call for urgent action to investigate the alleged violations and prevent an escalation of the conflict.

Over 50 individuals, including civilians, were killed and hundreds were wounded in border clashes opposing Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan troops over the four days. Among the victims are two children who died from wounds caused by shelling. As of 4 May, approximately 44,650 Kyrgyzstani and about 15,000 Tajikistani citizens had been evacuated from the conflict zone. On 30 April, the two parties agreed to a ceasefire and troop withdrawal.

According to FIDH member organisations, about a dozen villages were damaged as a result of armed confrontations, while houses and other civilian objects were burned down. Data from the Kyrgyz side suggests that 78 houses, two schools, an obstetric and gynecological clinic, a kindergarten, 10 gas stations, eight stores, three border checkpoints and a police station were partially or completely destroyed in Batken Region (Kyrgyzstan). According to official preliminary data from Tajikistan, in the territory of three jamoats of Isfara, 16 residential houses, an auxiliary civil facility and the building of a secondary school were partially or completely destroyed, as well as one house in the territory of Ovchi Kalacha village. More than 130 people were left without shelter and access to basic living conditions.

FIDH and its member organisations are concerned about reports of indiscriminate use of force against civilians and civilian facilities. Reportedly, a conflict over a water distribution point, which began on 28 April, escalated by the following day into an armed clash between border military units of both states. There is evidence that the military used machine guns, mortars and rocket artillery.

Our organisations recall that the use of wide-area explosive weapons in any populated areas exposes civilians to a great danger due to their indiscriminate nature, and is prohibited by international humanitarian law (IHL). IHL also prohibits attacks that directly target civilians or civilian facilities. Our organisations are fully convinced that indiscriminate attacks against civilians and the destruction of civilian infrastructure in Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan borderland are unjustified and constitute a gross violation of IHL and international human rights law.

Our organisations urge parties to the armed conflict to:

respect the ceasefire, make civilians’ security a priority in conflict resolution, and ensure equal participation of local communities in conflict resolution processes;
provide the necessary humanitarian assistance to the victims and their families, including all those who were displaced from their homes because of significant threats to their lives and health, with special attention to women, children, and other vulnerable groups;
develop an action plan to ensure equal access of citizens of both countries to water and land resources, which is a fundamental prerequisite for the implementation of human rights law, and solving the issue of the demarcation of safe borders;
conduct an investigation that will identify those responsible for civilian casualties, the destruction of civilian facilities, and other IHL violations.

We call on the international community to:

participate in negotiations between the parties to the conflict to de-escalate tensions, in accordance with the agreement between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan;
provide humanitarian assistance to local populations at risk, in order to prevent further civilian casualties;
launch the OSCE Moscow Mechanism, and/or another international mechanism to investigate possible violations of IHL and human rights law committed during this conflict;
call on Kyrgyzstan to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.


The history of the conflict between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan dates back to the early post-Soviet period, with tensions emerging from unresolved issues of delimitation and demarcation of state borders. The reasons for the recurring conflicts in the border area are access to water, land disputes, as well as squabbles arising from the main drug smuggling route from Afghanistan, which passes through Tajikistan and southern Kyrgyzstan.

This time, the cause of the conflict was access to water in the border areas of Sughd (Tajikistan) and Batken (Kyrgyzstan) regions: due to the lack of demarcation, it is not clear which side has the right to use water resources, and under which procedure. On 28 April, residents of Sughd, a province of Tajikistan that borders Kyrgyzstan, started to install cameras for video surveillance at Golovnoy water distribution site. The local Kyrgyz population opposed the installation. After a verbal skirmish, the participants of the incident started throwing stones at each other. On 29 April, this conflict escalated into an armed clash, in which the militaries of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan took part.

Dear friends!

Dear guests of our site!
Public Association “Human Rights Movement:
“Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan” is asking you to provide sponsorship and support in the form of a material donation!


Feedback from our focus groups



Experience should be attached to a law degree

Shakhboz Latipov, 24 y.o., young lawyer: “When I came to BDK for an internship, I had no experience in legal and human rights activities. Together with experienced senior colleagues, I began to attend trials, studied documents. Gradually my supervisor Khusanbai Saliev began to trust me the preparation of documents, carefully checked them and gave practical advice. Experience comes with time and cases you work on. Every day dozens of people who need help come to us, many of them are from socially vulnerable groups: the poor, large families, elderly citizens. A lawyer in a human rights organization sometimes acts as a psychologist, it is important for him to be able to maintain professionalism and show empathy. At the end of 2019, I successfully passed the exam to get the right to start working as attorney and now I work on cases as an attorney. I turn to my colleagues for help on complex issues, they always give me their advice. This is one of the strengths of the organization: there is support and understanding here.”



Organization unites regions

Feruza Amadalieva, social worker, leader, teacher: “TOT from BDK is a great opportunity to get acquainted with participants from different regions, we continue to communicate on social media and when we meet at events, as close friends, we have such warm relations! At the events, I improved my knowledge, systematized it, clarified how to apply it in practice. I really like the training modules and the way the system of training and practice is built: role-playing games, theory, discussions. Each person expresses himself/herself. I have become a leader for other vulnerable women, I try to help them and engage them in such events.” Feruza Amadalieva is a regular participant of many BDK events, she invites the BDK lawyers to provide legal advice to vulnerable women.



I became confident

In summer of 2019, Nuriza Talantbek kyzy took an active part in conducting regional screenings of documentaries, helped with organizational issues during the campaign dedicated to the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, participated in trips, and did the TOT on women's leadership. She used to be a migrant, worked for an NGO in Osh, and now works in Bishkek in the service industry. She calls her participation in the TOT “an invaluable experience”: “I first attended such an event, and received exactly the information that I needed, for which I am sincerely grateful to the facilitators. I experienced very difficult issues in my life, and thanks to that knowledge, I was able to overcome them, I persevered! After the TOT, I became more confident, began to better understand the essence of human rights, and learned to defend my interests.”



The defendant has passed away. The work on his rehabilitation continues.

The case of Shukurullo Kochkarov shows that work on complex cases continues for many years. After the torture he was subjected to in 2010, he became disabled. We managed to get acquittal on one of the charges; the work is ongoing on achieving his rehabilitation and recognition as a victim of torture in order for compensation to be paid. Trials continue without Shukurullo Kochkarov - he died on 2 August 2019. His interests are represented by his father, Saidaziz Kochkarov, who also has a visual disability. “For many years, we have been supported by the employees of BDK, they have been handling the case of my son, they brought him to court because he couldn’t walk on his own, they constantly help our family: my wife and I underwent rehabilitation, they have helped my son by providing him with medicines, they provide all kinds of help”.



Comprehensive support for victims of torture

Resident of the Kara-Suu district, Dilyor Jumabaev, has extensive experience in dealing with law enforcement agencies. In 2010, he was accused of possessing firearms, and thanks to the work of lawyers, he was acquitted. Two years later, his house was first searched in order to find materials of an extremist nature, but nothing was found. In 2014, he was accused of possessing extremist materials. In court, the prosecutor requested 15 years in prison; the court sentenced him to 6 years. A few years later he was released on parole. “I am grateful to the lawyers of BDK for their expert legal assistance. I participated in a rehabilitation program for victims of torture. When I encounter violations, I recommend contacting this organization.”


All rights reserved © 2020

The site is developed: