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Country Reports
KYRGYZSTAN , Landmine Monitor Report 2005


Key developments since May 2004: Landmine Monitor was informed that the Ministry of Defense stockpiles several tens of thousands of antipersonnel mines and the Frontier Troops stockpile some 1,000 to 2,000 antipersonnel mines; the shelf life for most if not all of these mines has expired. In 2004, clearance of mined territory around the Uzbek-populated Shakhimardan enclave in Kyrgyzstan was reportedly completed by Uzbekistan.

Mine Ban Policy

The Kyrgyz Republic has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty. Officials have said that while Kyrgyzstan supports the goal of a mine-free world, it does not yet have necessary alternatives for border defense, and it lacks financial and technical resources to implement the treaty.[1] On 3 December 2004, Kyrgyzstan abstained from voting on UN General Assembly Resolution 59/84, calling for universalization of the Mine Ban Treaty; it abstained on similar UNGA resolutions in recent years.[2 ]

Kyrgyzstan participated in the First Review Conference of the Mine Ban Treaty in Nairobi in November-December 2004 with a delegation headed by its then-First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. He stated: “Kyrgyzstan is not a participant of this Convention. Along with speaking in favor of a complete landmines ban, our country advocates a step-by-step advance to this goal. As you well understand, joining such an important document requires that all states should perform all commitments on its implementation immediately and unconditionally. Together with this, being a young state with a transitional economy... Kyrgyzstan has no right to charge itself with the admittedly unfulfilled tasks, and first of all from the military, financial and technical points of view.... I would like to underline that the world free from mines remains our common goal. As we repeatedly say the way to its achievement should be for Kyrgyzstan realistic, step-by-step, providing the support of the necessary level of security and stability.”[3 ]

Following the election-related mass protests in March 2005, President Askar Akaev resigned and a provisional government was installed. In May 2005, a Foreign Ministry official told Landmine Monitor that the issue of joining the Mine Ban Treaty will receive in-depth study by the new government due to the changed circumstances.[4 ] A new government headed by President Kurmanbek Bakiev was elected and took office in August 2005.

Kyrgyzstan attended the meetings of the intersessional Standing Committees in Geneva in June 2005, but did not make any statements. In a meeting with the ICBL, Ambassador Muktar Jumaliev stated that lack of resources for mine clearance was the main concern for Kyrgyzstan.[5 ]

Kyrgyzstan is not party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons or its Amended Protocol II on landmines.

Production, Transfer, Stockpiling and Use

Kyrgyzstan states that it has not produced or exported antipersonnel mines, but inherited a stockpile of mines from the Soviet Union.[6 ] In May 2005, a knowledgeable military source indicated that the Ministry of Defense stockpiles several tens of thousands of PMN and OZM-72 antipersonnel mines, and the Frontier Troops stockpile some 1,000 to 2,000 antipersonnel mines. The shelf life for most if not all of these mines has expired, and consideration is being given to a destruction program.[7 ]

Kyrgyzstan has acknowledged that it used antipersonnel mines in 1999 and 2000 to prevent infiltration across its borders, but maintains that these areas have since been demined.[8 ] According to the Ministry of Defense, Kyrgyz troops have not used landmines on the Kyrgyz-Tajik border since that time.[9 ]

It appears that criminal elements and drug smugglers in Kyrgyzstan also possess antipersonnel mines. An unknown number of mines were seized during the Kanal-2004 anti-drug operations, conducted by Kyrgyz law enforcement agencies in September 2004.[10]

Landmine and UXO Problem

In 1999 and 2000, Uzbekistan laid antipersonnel mines on the border with Kyrgyzstan to prevent incursions by an armed opposition group. Kyrgyz authorities estimated that about 42 kilometers of the 1,300 kilometer border were mined.[11 ] Uzbekistan also laid minefields inside Kyrgyzstan around the Uzbek enclaves of Sokh and Shakhimardan, and on other border areas. The Parliamentary Security Committee estimates that the minefields around the Sokh and Shakhimardan enclaves are about 250 meters wide and contain a high density of mines (about 2,000 to 3,000 mines per kilometer).[12]

The border with Tajikistan was previously mined. Although Kyrgyz officials have stated, in July 2003 and again in February 2004, that all Kyrgyz-laid landmines on the border have been cleared,[13 ]April 2004 press reports suggested that Kyrgyz mines remained on the Tajik side of the border and Tajik inspectors reported finding antipersonnel minefields near the border.[14 ]

Unexploded ordnance (UXO) is found at a former military training ground in Kadamjai region of Batken district, where two people were killed by UXO in May 2005.[15 ] Seven live mines were subsequently discovered at the training ground, and the Ministry of Defense informed Landmine Monitor that it planned to conduct mine clearance there “in the near future.”[16 ]

Mine Action

A decree issued on 7 June 2001 forms the legal basis for mine clearance in Kyrgyzstan. Mine clearance is carried out by engineering forces of the Kyrgyz Army; additional engineering personnel were deployed in 2001.[17]

Kyrgyzstan has stated since 2003 that minefield-marking and clearance of the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border will be resumed when the commission on delimiting the border has completed its work. In May 2005, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the commission had been working for more than two years, and acknowledged that some of the disputed territory is mine-affected.[18] According to a Kyrgyz official, the failure to mark mined areas is due to lack of funding and the failure by the Uzbek authorities to provide maps of the minefields.[19 ] Uzbek clearance of the border reportedly ceased in November 2004, after encountering difficulties of terrain, weather and unreliable maps.[20 ]

According to media reports, Uzbekistan completed mine clearance around the Uzbek-populated Shakhimardan enclave inside Kyrgyzstan in 2004; the mined areas were reported to be about three kilometers in length.[21 ] In March 2005, a note about the outcome of the clearance operations was reported as submitted by the Uzbek Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the government of Kyrgyzstan.[22 ]

The Red Crescent Society in Kyrgyzstan continues a mine risk education (MRE) program, in coordination with the Ministry of Emergency Situations, in seven villages in the mine-affected zone of Batken oblast. Red Crescent volunteers conducted MRE trainings for adults and schoolchildren. The program, established in 2003, continued in 2004 and during 2005.[23]

Landmine/UXO Casualties and Survivor Assistance

In 2004 and early 2005, there were no known reports of new landmine casualties in Kyrgyzstan. One Kyrgyz civilian was killed in a mine explosion in 2003.[24]

On 10 May 2005, two children, aged 17 and 14, were killed as a result of a UXO explosion on a military training ground near their home in the Batken region.[25]

The total number of landmine casualties in Kyrgyzstan is not known. According to the National Red Crescent Society, 12 landmine/UXO casualties have occurred in Batken region since 1999; seven people were killed.[26 ] However, according to one media report, at least 11 Kyrgyz citizens have been killed in landmine explosions since 1999.[27 ]

The public health system is free of charge in Kyrgyzstan. Landmine and UXO casualties receive the same medical assistance as all other citizens. Mine/UXO survivors requiring prosthetic or orthotic services must travel to the Dushanbe Orthopedic Center in Tajikistan, as there are no facilities in Kyrgyzstan. Psychological and socioeconomic support is often not available due to the economic problems in the country. All civilians with a disability are protected under common law.[28 ]

[1] See Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p. 1029.

[2 ]Kyrgyzstan voted in support of pro-mine ban UNGA resolutions from 1996 to 1998.

[3 ]Statement by Talantbek Kushchubekov, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nairobi Summit on a Mine-Free World (First Review Conference), Nairobi, 3 December 2004.

[4 ]Interview with Erkin Mamkulov, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bishkek, 12 May 2005. He said that representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Security Council, Ministry of Defense and Frontier Troops would meet in the near term regarding the issue of joining the treaty.

[5 ]Email from Amb. Satnam Singh, ICBL Diplomatic Advisor, 28 June 2005.

[6 ]Statement by Talantbek Kushchubekov, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, First Review Conference, Nairobi, 3 December 2004.

[7 ]Interview with confidential military source, Bishkek, May 2005.

[8 ]Statement by Talantbek Kushchubekov, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mine Ban Treaty intersessional meetings, Geneva, 12 February 2004.

[9 ]Interview with Col. Daniyar Izbasarov, Director, Engineering Department, Ministry of Defense, Bishkek, 19 August 2005.

[10] “Kyrgyz operation seizes over 130 kg of heroin, 50 kg of opium,” Kyrgyz TV (Bishkek), 28 September 2004.

[11 ]“Uzbekistan stopped demining on Kyrgyz-Uzbek border in unilateral character,” 9 November 2004, www.kyrgyzinfo.kg/; “Demining alone: Uzbekistan clears mines from Kyrgyz-Uzbek border without agreement with neighbor,” 24 August 2004, www.dw-world.de.

[12] Sultan Zhimagulov (Bishkek) and Olga Borisova (Tashkent), “Kyrgyzstan Tries to Defend Itself from Uzbek Mines,” Navigator (Kazakhstan), 14 March 2003, www.navi.kz/articles/2878.

[13 ]Interview with Col. Daniyar Izbasarov, 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. Statement by Talantbek Kushchubekov, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mine Ban Treaty intersessional meetings, Geneva, 12 February 2004.

[14 ]“Mines make childhood dangerous pastime in Tajikistan,” Agence France-Presse (Dushanbe), 24 April 2004; “Jordan’s Queen Noor attends mine-clearing drill in Tajik south,” Tajik Radio, 16 April 2004.

[15 ]“Two more Kyrgyz teenagers died in mine blast,” 11 May 2005, www.akipress.org.

[16 ]Interview with Col. Daniyar Izbasarov, Ministry of Defense, Bishkek, 12 May 2005.

[17] See Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p. 1031.

[18] Interview with Erkin Mamkulov, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bishkek, 12 May 2005; see Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p. 1031.

[19 ]Interview with Col. Daniyar Izbasarov, Ministry of Defense, Bishkek, 10 May 2005.

[20 ]See report on Uzbekistan in this edition of Landmine Monitor.

[21 ]“Uzbekistan completed mine clearance on the border of Shakhimardan enclave,” 2 September 2004, www.kyrgyzinfo.kg; “Uzbekistan completed mine clearing around enclave Shakhimardan,” 3 March 2005, www.CentrAsia.org/newsA.html4?st=1109847240.

[22 ]“Uzbekistan completed mine clearing around enclave Shakhimardan,” 3 March 2005. The content of the note is not known.

[23] Interview with Kyal Sabitov, MRE Program Coordinator, Red Crescent Society, Batken, 5 May 2005. See Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p. 1032.

[24] See Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p. 1032.

[25] Interview with Kyal Sabitov, Red Crescent Society, Batken, 1 September 2005; Makhamadjan Urumbaev, “Two Teenagers Killed by Explosion,” Vecherny Bishkek, 12 May 2005.

[26 ]See Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p. 1032.

[27 ]“Uzbekistan set to demine borders with Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan,” Kazakh TV (Astana), 14 August 2004.

[28 ]See Landmine Monitor Report 2004, pp. 1032-1033.