This year, the 14th session of the UN Forum on Minority Issues was devoted to preventing conflicts on ethnic and religious grounds. The causes and background of such incidents are the accumulated dissatisfaction of various groups of the population with unresolved economic and social problems, insufficient authorities’ efforts to provide social support to vulnerable groups, to integrate closed communities and consolidated ethnic and religious groups, to support peacebuilding and people’s diplomacy. In such a situation, there is a high risk of interethnic conflicts that used to take place according to a similar scenario: day-to-day disagreements, offenses – de facto committed or only allegedly committed by members of a minority – all this appeares to be enough to raise aggression against a majority and/or state persecution of minorities, with tragic consequences.
In this regard, the position of the authorities, the speed and adequacy of their reaction on the conflict or its potential threat is of the utmost importance.
There are few positive examples of such a response in our region. Thus, in Moldova, the quick and adequate actions of the police and the local administration of the Otaci village stopped the conflict between the Roma and non-Roma population.
However, many other similar conflicts in our region, unfortunately, were not prevented: the trigger events caused large-scale anti-Roma actions, resulted in victims and forced departure of hundreds and thousands Roma residents from their settlements (such cases are documented, in particular, in Chemodanovka, Ust-Abakan (2019), Belgorod region (Russia); in the village of Loshchinovka (Ukraine)). In Belarus, Roma were subjected to mass police harassment (2019).
Another example of a late and insufficient state response to the conflict was the anti-Dungan pogroms in the South of Kazakhstan in 2020. 11 people were killed in the conflict, houses and property of Dungans were destroyed, thousands of people fled to neighboring Kyrgyzstan. The authorities denied the interethnic aspect of the conflict; and ethnic profiling took place during the investigation and trial. The consequences of the pogroms have not yet been overcome, which requires positive and systematic work of the state and civil society.
On the contrary, sometimes states apply inadequate emergency measures, such as disconnecting mobile communications and the Internet, increasing military presence, blocking roads, – in response to the demands of the population to comply with the law and carry out a public dialogue. This is not the first time in the last decade that is happening in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region of Tajikistan, whose population differs from the ethnic majority in linguistic, cultural and religious terms. The protests were caused by the death of local residents as a result of a police operation, and harsh repressive measures do not reduce, but rather increase tensions and risks of conflict. This causes our deep concern. Experts note insufficient representation of Pamiris in government bodies and public administration, insufficient economic support for the region resulted in mass emigration, neglecting linguistic and cultural rights of Pamiris. The country’s authorities should focus on overcoming these negative factors avoiding repressive measures and preventing discrimination and violations of the rule of law.