One year since the anti-Dungan pogrom in the Korday District of Kazakhstan

Photos provided by eyewitnesses via Dungan activists

One year ago, on the night of February 7-8, 2020, the largest ethnic conflict in recent years took place in Kazakhstan – the pogrom of Dungan villages of Masanchi, Sortobe, Bular Batyr and Aukhatty. According to official reports, as a result of the pogrom, ten Dungan and one Kazakh persons were killed, hundreds of people were injured, while damage to property belonging to the Dungan people, both destroyed and damaged (including houses and other buildings, trade facilities, vehicles), amounted to millions of dollars. Thousands of Dungans were forced to leave their homes and flee to the neighboring Kyrgyzstan.

Despite the obvious fact that it was the Dungans who have become the victims, the Kazakhstan authorities are still in no hurry to recognize the interethnic nature of this conflict and failed to classify the incident as mass riots. On March 11, 2020, the Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Kazakhstan reported that 120 criminal cases had been initiated in connection with the pogroms in the Korday region, but it is still unknown whether all suspects in crimes against the Dungan people, which had included murders and bodily harm, destruction of property and theft, had been properly identified and detained. In September 2020 Kazakhstan reported that about 60 persons had been charged and the courts have already sentenced 7 pogromists, but later the actual prison terms were replaced by other restrictions of freedom.

At the same time, residents of Dungan villages reported intimidation and psychological pressure, searches and detentions at night with the participation of servicemen of special military units in these actions. The military were hiding their faces behind masks, carried interrogations for hours, resorted to torture and beatings during these interrogations. Many of the Dungans who had faced the courts on various charges, claimed that they had been tortured during the investigation. In particular, at a hearing on January 18, 2021, one of them shouted: “We were beaten, tortured with electric shock!” After the trial another Dungan prosecuted person inflicted bodily harm on himself, explaining his act by the fact that the convoy had beaten one of the accused in front of him.

In August 2020, as part of the urgent response procedure, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination considered the situation of the anti-Dungan pogroms and stated that Kazakhstan, as a signatory state of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, was obliged to ensure an effective and independent investigation of the events of February 7-8, 2020, as well as effective protection of the Dungan minority, reparation and support for victims, access of independent observers to the Korday region. There was no official response from the Kazakhstan authorities to this statement since then.

The authorities of Kazakhstan should publicly condemn the actions of the pogromists and effectively investigate the crimes motivated by ethnic hatred, which had been committed on the night of February 7-8, 2020 in the Korday region. They should bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice, and properly and promptly respond to all cases of public xenophobic statements by any public officials.