Bishkek: Kyrgyz government forces are targeting ethnic Uzbeks for torture, including severe beatings and suffocation, in the wake of deadly ethnic riots earlier this year, Human Rights Watch said on Monday.
The New York-based watchdog blasted Bishkek in a major report for failing to protect ethnic Uzbeks both during and after ethnic clashes in the south of the country that killed more than 370 people, according to the official toll, and left 400,000 displaced.
"Research by Human Rights Watch indicates that law enforcement officers routinely subjected people detained in connection with the June violence to ill-treatment and torture in custody," the report said.
"While the authorities claim to be investigating crimes committed during the June violence by both ethnic groups, Human Rights Watch research indicates that the security operations disproportionately targeted ethnic Uzbeks."
The report, the result of nearly two months of research into the clashes between majority Kyrgyz and minority Uzbeks that exploded in the ex-Soviet state in June, covered specific cases of torture in harrowing detail.
Victims described being burned by cigarette butts, strangled and beaten with rubber truncheons while in custody.
Kyrgyzstan, an impoverished Central Asian state bordering China, has been wracked by political chaos and ethnic violence since the ouster of president Kurmanbek Bakiyev in bloody street protests in April.
President Roza Otunbayeva, a former ambassador to both the United States and Britain, has struggled to impose order in the restive country since assuming power, particularly in its deeply-divided southern regions.