In the explosion of ethnic violence that rocked the southern city of Osh starting June 10, as many as half the country's 800,000 Uzbeks were forced to flee their homes before marauding mobs of ethnic Kyrgyz, apparently abetted by government troops. An untold number, which the New York Times now puts at "thousands," have been killed. Arson, rape, and other atrocities have been widespread. Late last week, the very fragile government in Bishkek finally seemed to gain control over the army; or perhaps, with the victim population largely terrorized and dispersed, the violence simply burned itself out. But this might be the lull before another storm: Uzbeks may seek revenge, in turn provoking new attacks from Kyrgyz or from the Kyrgyz-dominated security forces. Naomi Kikoler of the Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect calls the violence "a textbook case of R2P," as the norm has come to be abbreviated. Her organization as well as Human Rights Watch and the International Crisis Group have called for urgent international action.
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