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Country Reports
Kyrgyzstan, Landmine Monitor Report 2003


Key developments since May 2002: In January 2003, the Red Crescent Society of Kyrgyzstan, in coordination with the Ministry of Emergency Situations, initiated a community-based mine risk education program in Batken Oblast. The Red Crescent, together with the ICRC, conducted roundtables on landmines in Batken in February 2003 and in Bishkek in March 2003.

Mine Ban Policy

Kyrgyzstan has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty. Antipersonnel mines are considered by the military as useful in protecting the 80 percent of the country’s borders that are at high altitude, with remote and difficult-to-access paths—locations where it would not be possible to station forces or border guards.[1] The military does not exclude the possibility of using antipersonnel mines at remote high altitude border areas in order to block population migration, and to interdict drug trafficking along mountainous paths from Tajikistan and Afghanistan.[2] An official has also cited the need for mines in counter-terrorist operations.[3] Antipersonnel mines are viewed as a cheap and available weapon, while the acquisition of alternatives is seen as economically impossible.[4]

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has stated that Kyrgyzstan has not produced or exported antipersonnel mines, but inherited a stockpile of antipersonnel mines from the Soviet Union.[5] Government officials acknowledge that Kyrgyzstan used antipersonnel mines in 1999 and 2000 to prevent infiltration across border areas.[6] They state that all the areas were demined.[7]

There are some alternative views in support of Kyrgyzstan joining the Mine Ban Treaty. For example, Kyrgyz Parliamentarian Zainidin Kurmanov in March 2003 said that mines are no longer needed on the border, and called for urgent mine clearance.[8]

Representatives of Kyrgyzstan attended the Fourth Meeting of States Parties in September 2002, but did not participate in 2003 intersessional Standing Committee meetings. Kyrgyzstan abstained from voting on pro-Mine Ban Treaty UN General Assembly Resolution 57/74 on 22 November 2002.

In December 2002, the Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) Kyrgyz Committee, and Kyrgyz Association of UN Assistance in Kyrgyzstan organized a “No Mine Threat” conference to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the signing of the Mine Ban Treaty. The IPPNW-Kyrgyz Committee also organized a photographic exhibition on landmines in Batken, with funding provided by the Bishkek Rotary Club. It was shown at the Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University from 2-9 May 2003, and at the Gansi Air Base, where coalition forces are located, from 1-8 June.[9] The Netherlands Air Force personnel at the air base donated four tons of clothing to residents of mine-affected areas in Batken, which the local authorities and National Red Crescent Society distributed in the villages of Chon-Kara, Sai, and Tayan.[10]

Landmine Problem

In 1999 and 2000, Uzbekistan laid antipersonnel mines on the border with Kyrgyzstan to prevent incursions by the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) rebel group. Uzbek minefields are emplaced inside Kyrgyzstan around the Tajik enclave of Sokh, around the Shakhi-Mardan enclave, and along other border areas. According to Kyrgyz border guards, two to three mine explosions take place in the Sokh enclave on a monthly basis.[11] Experts from the Kyrgyz Parliament Committee for Security estimate the width of the mined areas around Sokh and Shakhi-Mardan enclaves at not less than 250 meters, with high mining density, from 2,000 to 3,000 mines (fragmentation OZM-72) per kilometer.[12]

It is unclear whether there are still mines along the Kyrgyz-Tajik border. In July 2003 a Ministry of Defense official said all Kyrgyz-laid landmines on the border had been cleared.[13]

Mine Action

A law passed on 7 June 2001 forms the legal basis for mine clearance in Kyrgyzstan.[14] In February 2002, a Ministry of Defense official said that 320,000 square meters of mine-affected land along the Uzbek border had been cleared.[15] The Kyrgyz Army has established a new engineer battalion and all large troop divisions have specialist engineers attached. Engineer units in Osh have also been augmented with additional troops.[16] After the commission of border delineation completes its work, Kyrgyz Army Engineering units will re-commence border demining.[17]

In 2002, the Kyrgyz military reportedly began clearance in some areas, but, according to the Kyrgyz Border Guard Service, stopped due to disputes about the border. A representative of the Kyrgyz Ministry of Defense General Staff reported that Kyrgyz demining efforts were halted due to the warnings from the Uzbek border guards that “if we [Kyrgyzstan] clear mines they will replant them there again.”[18] In March 2003, it was reported that Kyrgyz border troops had cleared some minefields laid by Uzbekistan.[19] A Kyrgyz Defense Ministry official, Tairbek Madymarov, said that the Uzbeks “stated quite clearly that if the Kyrgyz personnel dug up and defused the mines, more would be planted.”[20]

In January 2003, the Red Crescent Society of Kyrgyzstan, in coordination with the Ministry of Emergency Situations, initiated a community-based mine risk education (MRE) program in Batken Oblast. Red Crescent volunteers conduct MRE trainings for adults and schoolchildren. The Red Crescent has produced and disseminated information exhibits and billboards, as well as booklets, posters, and updates.[21] The Red Crescent, together with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), has also conducted roundtables on landmines, including in Batken on 14 February 2003, and in Bishkek on 5 March 2003. IPPNW-Kyrgyzstan has participated in these meetings and also assisted in the preparation of the MRE training materials.

Red Crescent Society volunteers, with support from the ICRC, placed warning signs in mine-affected areas of the Batken region. According to Raisa Ibragimova, Head of the Kyrgyz Red Crescent Society, this was done in response to mine incidents in the area and will help to prevent future mine incidents. Volunteers conducted field research to determine which areas require marking. In addition to the warning signs, the volunteers also distributed mine risk education posters and leaflets among local residents.[22]

Landmine/UXO Casualties and Survivor Assistance

On 10 March 2002, a 13-year-old was killed while playing with a hand grenade, found in a military training field, and in June 2002, a 14-year-old was killed and an 8-year-old injured while playing with a piece of unexploded ordnance (UXO).[23] On 23 February 2003, a Kyrgyz civilian was killed when he stepped on a mine while herding livestock seven kilometers west of Chon-Kara in the Batken region.[24] From 1999 to 2003, eleven landmine and UXO casualties have been recorded.[25]

The public health system is free-of-charge in Kyrgyzstan. Landmine and UXO casualties receive the same medical assistance as all other patients.[26]

Kyrgyzstan does not have an orthotic and prosthetic center capable of fitting artificial limbs to mine amputees. Mine survivors requiring such treatment would have to travel to the Dushanbe Orthopedic Center in Tajikistan, run by the ICRC.[27] However, none of the five mine survivors living in Batken region require artificial limbs and all have received and continue to receive medical assistance. While physical rehabilitation services exist, psychological and socio-economic support is less available due to economic problems in the country.[28]

All civilians with a disability are protected under common law and there are no special laws or decrees for landmine survivors.

[1] Interview with Colonel Bukhov, Ministry of Frontier Troops, Bishkek, 17 March 2003.
[2] Statement by Madymarov Tairbek, Ministry of Defense, to ICRC roundtable, Bishkek, 5 March 2003.
[3] Statement by Arslanbek Umentaliev, First Secretary, Department of International Security, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to the regional conference on Landmines and the Explosive Remnants of War, Moscow, 4 November 2002. Notes taken by Landmine Monitor (HRW).
[4] Statement by Mamkulov Erkin Beishembievich, Head, CIS Countries Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to ICRC roundtable, Bishkek, 5 March 2003.
[5] Statement by Arslanbek Umentaliev to regional conference, 4 November 2002.
[6] Ibid. Few details are known about the stockpile, which apparently includes PFM-1 and PFM-1S mines. See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 687.
[7] See Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 888. The military stresses that their practice of mapping minefields ensures that mines can be removed. Statement by Madymarov Tairbek, Ministry of Defense, to ICRC roundtable, 5 March 2003.
[8] Sultan Jumagulov (Bishkek) and Olga Borisova (Tashkent), “Uzbek-Kyrgyz border is still mined,” Institute of War and Peace Reporting, No.192, 21 March 2003.
[9] Galina Emelyanova, “There is lowering sky above the border,” Respublica, 13 May 2003, p. 7; Elena Avdeeva, “Land Must Bear Fruit Rather than Kill”, Vechernii Bishkek, 3 June 2003, p. 1.
[10] Interview with Kyal Sabitov, Representative, National Red Crescent Society in Batken, 27 June 2003.
[11] Aella Panfilova, “Anclave Sokh–a Stumbling Point,” Eurasia Today, 6 May 2003.
[12] Sultan Zhimagulov (Bishkek) and Olga Borisova (Tashkent), “Kyrgyzstan Tries to Defend Itself from Uzbek Mines,” Navigator (Kazakhstan), 14 March 2003, available at www.navi.kz.
[13] Interview with Col. Daniyr Izbasarov, Director, Engineer Department, Ministry of Defense, Bishkek, 3 July 2003. The Ministry of Defense reportedly said in 2001 that one remote minefield remained, which would be demined in the future. Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 689.
[14] Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 889.
[15] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 690.
[16] Interview with Col. Daniyr Izbasarov, Director, Engineer Department, Ministry of Defense, Bishkek, 27 March 2003.
[17] Ibid.
[18] Sultan Zhimagulov and Olga Borisova, “Uzbek Mines,” Navigator, 14 March 2003.
[19] “Kyrgyzstan to Patrol Kazakh Border,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 13 March 2003.
[20] Sultan Jumagulov and Olga Borisova, “Uzbek Kyrgyz Border Danger,” 21 March 2003.
[21] Interview with Nazira Baratbaeva, Project Coordinator, National Red Crescent Society, Bishkek, 14 February 2002.
[22] Sultan Zhimagulov and Olga Borisova, “Uzbek Mines,” Navigator, 14 March 2003.
[23] Oibek Khamidov, “Teenager blown up,” Vechernii Bishkek, 13 March 2002; interview with Anarbaev Abdysamin, Head of Batken Central Regional Hospital, 18 March 2002.
[24] Alexandra Chernyh, “Minister asks to open maps,” Moya Stolitza, 27 February 2003; “Kyrgyz man dies from Uzbek-laid mine in disputed territory,” Associated Press, 25 February 2003.
[25] Asel Otorbaeva, “To leave and not return,” Vechernii Bishkek, 12 March 2003.
[26] Interview with Tajinisa Shorohova, Deputy Director, Batken Hospital, Batken, 14 February 2003; see also Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 691.
[27] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 691.
[28] Interview with Tajinisa Shorohova, Batken Hospital, 14 February 2003.