A mountainous and predominantly agricultural country in Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan is one of the poorest of the former Soviet states: just over a third of the population live in poverty.
Kyrgyzstan’s first two post-Soviet presidents were removed from office in the face of popular discontent, in 2005 and 2010, amid allegations of corruption and curtailment of civil liberties. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, 19 people were still missing three years after the disturbances that led to the change of government in 2010.
Since a 2010 referendum that limited the power of the presidency, Kyrgyzstan has been ruled by multi-party coalitions. December 2011 marked the first peaceful transfer of presidential power in the country’s independent history.
Since 2010 tensions over poverty and ethnic divisions have spilled into violence. Kyrgyzstan has two main ethnic groups, Kyrgyz, who make up nearly 70% of the population, and Uzbeks, who make up around 15%. The unrest of June 2010 resulted in 300,000 people being displaced inside the country and 100,000 fleeing into neighboring Uzbekistan.
In a 2010 report on Kyrgyzstan, Amnesty International cited human rights violations in the official response to the June unrest, with reports of arbitrary detentions and excessive use of force by security officials. Attempts to investigate the clashes appeared to be undermined by ethnic bias.
A Human Rights Watch report cited cases of harassment and disappearance of refugees fleeing to Kyrgyzstan from neighboring Uzbekistan.