Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan: fatal shooting

Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan: fatal shooting

Border officials in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan have agreed to intensify coordination following the recent fatal shooting of a Kyrgyz citizen by Uzbek frontier guards. As Eurasianet writes in an article "Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan agree to boost border cooperation after fatal shooting", following a meeting in the Uzbek city of Namangan this week, officials from both countries agreed to forbid the deployment of live fire against civilians except in exceptional circumstances.

Those were among the points of agreement to emerge from talks between Kyrgyz State Border Service chief Ularbek Sharsheyev and his Uzbek counterpart, Ruslan Mirzayev, this week. According to details provided by Kyrgyz border personnel, a man was fatally shot by Uzbek border guards on April 7 near the settlement of Mamai, in Kyrgyzstan’s Jalal-Abad region. The man was reportedly on Kyrgyz soil when he was shot, although Uzbek authorities have said they believe he had illegally crossed the border and refused to submit to authorities when he was intercepted. A bilateral investigation was subsequently organized to determine the exact sequence of incidents leading up to the shooting.

Vagueness over the border — from its precise whereabouts to how it should be policed — has led often to such episodes. Uzbek border troops have proven particularly trigger-happy in the past.

As part of Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s signature policy of improving relations with neighbors, however, verbal commitments on measures to reduce border tensions may prove more productive this time than in the past. 

There are plans to assemble a joint border commission later this month to discuss cooperation on broadening public awareness about proper conduct in border areas, coordinating patrols and the development of a unified code of conduct for border personnel.

The specifics of the April 7 incident, as related by the Kyrgyz ombudsman’s office, neatly illustrate how a combination of fuzzy borders and imprecise rules of conduct can quickly threaten public order. Border officials say the trouble began when 34-year-old Farhad Myrzakulov leapt across a canal that informally serves as the border after visiting his aunt, who lives inside Uzbekistan. Border guards chased Myrzakulov and shot him, in the head. Upon seeing border guards dragging Myrzakulov’s body back into Uzbekistan, the man’s aunt began to cry for help. Two Kyrgyz citizens got involved, prompting the Uzbek troops to threaten to open fire once more. Only when yet more people arrived at the scene, did the border guards retreat to their side of the canal. Myrzakulov died of his wounds in the hospital.

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