Barak, Kyrgyzstan

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Barak is a Kyrgyz village (40°40′N 72°46′E / 40.667°N 72.767°E / 40.667; 72.767) which is an exclave situated within Uzbekistan.[1][2] Administratively it is part of Kara-Suu District in Kyrgyzstan's Osh Province. The exclave of Barak is encircled by Andijan Province, Uzbekistan.

It is a relatively small town of approximately 600 people[3] located in the Fergana Valley. Alternative estimates list the village consisting of 153 families (approximately 1,000 residents).[4]

It is located about 4 km north-west of the road from Osh (Kyrgyzstan) to Khodjaabad (Uzbekistan) near the Kyrgyz–Uzbek border in the direction toward Andijan (40°47′N 72°20′E / 40.783°N 72.333°E / 40.783; 72.333).[5] This places it approximately 1.5 km from the Uzbek/Kyrgyz border, near Ak-Tash village.[4][6]

Border dispute[edit]

Kyrgyzstan's 1991 pre-independence border is the de jure international border, but much of it is hotly disputed with its neighbors. In August 1999, the area around Barak was occupied by Uzbekistan, cutting it off from Kyrgyz territory. Uzbek forces dug up and blockaded the road to Ak-Tash[6] while also allegedly seizing large areas of Kyrgyz land that had been loaned in the Soviet era but never returned.[7] They entrenched themselves within much of Kyrgyz border territory and refused to leave.[8] Barak became a de facto enclave only 1.5 km from the shifted main border.[4] Four Uzbek enclaves and Barak are major sticking points in border delimitation talks,[9] and disputes center on the areas of Barak, Sokh, Gava and Gavasay (stream).[10] (Map)

Effect on villagers[edit]

“Kyrgyzstan's Barak exclave in Uzbekistan … [has a] Kyrgyz population of 153 families and more than 1,000 people. … Barak is surrounded by Uzbek territory and is 1.5 kilometers from the main Kyrgyz-Uzbek border."[4] In 2011, many villagers asked the government to re-settle them within the main border. Kyrgyz officials fear, however, that if the people leave Barak then Kyrgyzstan will not be able to keep its exclave.[4]

“In [August] 1999, Barak was cut off from Kyrgyz territory when Uzbekistan dug up the road leading to the Kyrgyz village of Ak-Tash and blockaded it with concrete block. … '[In Barak] there's a village school, there's a [cultural center] and there's little shop. But there are no post offices and no government buildings or any other type of employment. There is no bank. Barak is tiny. Barak is one village ... dependent on one border connection post. There's only one telephone.'"[11]

Villagers “traveled to Osh in February 2003 to protest Uzbek border restrictions. Within a week, a chance meeting between the protestors and Prime Minister Nikolai Tanayev in Osh led to Uzbekistan's removal of the concrete blocks and the opening of the Barak-Ak Tash road.”[12]

A report in 2003 stated, “Border controls along the Kyrgyz-Uzbek frontier have been dramatically increased since 1999, … In Barak, exhaustive border checks have become part of the daily routine. … In mid-March [2003], Kyrgyz and Uzbek officials signed a protocol concerning Barak, which, on paper, eased restrictions on the movements of enclave residents. In practice, … customs officials have not done anything to simplify procedures for individuals entering and leaving the enclave.”[13]

Soviet-era borders[edit]

Border demarcations that were once of little significance are now affecting the lives of ordinary people in dramatic ways.[14] The USSR's national-territorial delimitation of 1924-1927 was the first chapter of an ongoing story of twentieth-century border-moving, which continued beyond the Soviet Union’s collapse.[15]

“Although numerous demarcation commissions were formed during the Soviet era, none ever fully resolved questions relating to issues such as isolated territorial enclaves; temporary land leases which were never returned; rent agreements which were left unpaid; … and conflicting maps showing the borders running in different places.”[16]

“It is unlikely that the original cartographers ever thought that the borders they were creating would one day delimit independent states. … The industrial, urban, agricultural and transport planning projects of one state spilled freely over into the territory of its neighbour. Although sometimes formalised by inter-state rental contracts, rents were seldom collected nor was land reclaimed when the period of tenure expired. The result was a highly complicated pattern of land-use … [B]order commissions in the 1920s and 1950s had failed to complete their work ... .”[17]

"Demarcation of the border in the Ferghana Valley is proving to be extremely complicated, because the borders were in the Soviet times barely more than lines on maps, having little relevance to everyday life. … As a result, today large areas of land officially claimed by one state in the Ferghana Valley are being farmed by citizens of the other states, an example of which lies along the Batken-Isfara (Kyrgystan-Tadjikistan) border, where over 1300 hectares of land are reportedly disputed."[16]

Before independence, the Uzbek SSR “rented significant tracts of land in the Kyrgyz SSR for industrial and agricultural use. These were intended to be fixed-term contracts, but rents were frequently left uncollected and land unreturned, so that settlement occurred and persisted on these plots over more than one generation.”[18]

In 1999, Kyrgyz “filmmaker and outspoken opposition deputy, Dooronbek Sadïrbaev … claimed to have possession of a copy of an agreement renting 45,000 hectares of land to Uzbekistan in the 1960s that should have been returned in 1980, but never was.”[19] Kyrgyzstan also has some territories that it leased for cattle raising during the Soviet period and which it has not given up.[20]

Complications at independence[edit]

In 1991, “independence presented a complicated and uncertain boundary geography: heir of Soviet-era patterns of land-use that wantonly transgressed the administrative boundaries of the Ferghana Valley republics. Those boundaries themselves had never been fully demarcated, and different maps showed different borders.”[21]

At the time of independence "significant areas of the borderlands were being utilised by citizens of neighbouring states. This occurred both through informal illegal squatting and formal fixed-term inter-state territorial leases. … Even though 30,000 hectares of Kyrgyzstani land in the Alay region was due to have been returned by Tajikistan’s Kurab region in 1992, the land is still being utilised. Uzbekistan’s Marhamat region was utilising 6885 hectares of land from Osh’s Aravon region,"[22] the two of which share a border of only about 125 km that was still in dispute in 2011.[16]

“The effects of Soviet era border-planning were not felt in the years immediately following independence, apart from a brief crisis in 1993. … [D]aily cross-border life in the Valley continued almost uninterrupted. … However, the two republics (Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan) slowly ‘drifted apart’ as they became increasingly differentiated in tangible ways.”[23] Until 1998 it was possible to travel across state boundaries almost as though they were internal ones.[16]

1999[edit]

Major conflict erupted in 1999 that in part centered on Uzbekistan's unilateral demarcation of its border and its alleged seizure of large areas of Kyrgyz agricultural land lent to Uzbekistan for temporary usage during the Soviet period but never returned.[24]

“On February 13, 1999, Uzbekistan's president, Islam Karimov, confirmed that the major Osh-Andijon cross-border bus service, along with many other routes in the Ferghana Valley, had been suspended. … Closure of the border was accelerated three days later when a carefully-orchestrated series of bomb blasts rocked the Uzbekistani capital Tashkent, killing 16[.] … Uzbekistan immediately sealed its border, ... security was dramatically tightened up … and special units were deployed to sensitive border areas. New control posts were built and existing facilities upgraded, and in many places crossings were closed, roads dug up, and bridges demolished. … The effects of these unilateral measures were keenly felt by Kyrgyzstanis.”[25]

In the summer Kyrgyzstan’s neighbouring Batken region was invaded by guerrillas of the so-called Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).[26] Following this the opposition press continued to carry numerous reports of Uzbekistan’s border policies encroaching onto Kyrgyzstan.[27] In August 1999, the area around Barak was occupied by Uzbekistan, cutting it off from Kyrgyz territory. Uzbek forces dug up and blockaded the road to Ak-Tash.[6]

Throughout 1999, the Kyrgyzstani government did not physically attempt to contest the new border and concomitant control posts that Uzbekistan established.[28] “The Kyrgyz insisted on delimiting the border and keeping it open to the flow of goods. The Uzbek state, however, quickly moved to prevent the flow of unauthorized crossings.

"This unilateral enforcement resulted in tremendous obstruction of the movement of people and goods. … Throughout 1999 … it became clear that extremists were operating across the border. The Uzbek state sent troops and border guards on expeditions into Kyrgyz territory to suppress extremist operatives. Kyrgyz authorities condemned the violation of their sovereignty, but … Uzbekistan increased the volume of threats, began to violate Kyrgyz territory, … began to mine the border and construct barriers, watchtowers, and dead zones along the Kyrgyz border. This strategy of unilaterally securing the border foreclosed cooperation[.] … Indeed, many of these unilateral fortifications were constructed deep within Kyrgyz territory. … Uzbek forces entrenched themselves on Kyrgyz territory and refused to leave.”[29]

After the end of the IMU guerilla fighting in Batken, a new development emerged that threatened to spark an even graver crisis between the two states than the events in the spring: Uzbekistan's unilateral demarcation of its border in the Ferghana Valley. There had throughout the year been persistent comments by Kyrgyzstani journalists and politicians concerning territorial disputes. Some accused Uzbekistan of advancing border checkpoints along roads into Kyrgyz territory.[16] Around the start of October onwards Uzbekistan began erecting a “2-meter high barbed-wire perimeter fence along large stretches of the Valley boundary, and mining other stretches. This led to widespread accusations within Kyrgyzstan that Uzbekistan was actually fencing off tens of thousands of hectares of Kyrgyzstani land.”[30]

Kyrgyz-Uzbek delimitation talks[edit]

Joint work to demarcate the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border began in February 2000 but has proceeded very slowly.[20] “A February [2001] meeting between the two countries' prime ministers … [ended with] a promise to meet again to discuss the thorniest issue in bilateral relations—demarcating the common border. … Some 150 spots along the Uzbek-Kyrgyz border [were] under dispute.”[31]

“[A] memorandum was signed which would have given Uzbekistan a land corridor running the 40 kilometres along the Sokh River to the enclave. ... In exchange for the corridor to Sokh, Kyrgyzstan was to receive a smaller corridor to its enclave in Uzbekistan, Barak.”[20] The memorandum caused political backlash in Kyrgyzstan and was never implemented.

By February 2002 only 209 out of 1,400 kilometres had been jointly demarcated, although 994 kilometres had been studied. But the most controversial points remained: in the Osh and Batken regions, 406 kilometres were waiting to be studied by the joint commission.[32] “The work also revealed the main disputed areas as being the enclaves of Barak and Sokh and the areas of Gava and Gavasay. Regarding these sites, the positions of the parties remained far from convergence.”[32]

According to a 2004 report by the International Crisis Group (ICG), "Negotiations over border demarcation in the valley have been charged with tension and have stalled over scores of disputed points.”[33] In 2004, approximately “50 places along the border [were] contested between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, and, despite warmer relations, some between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.”[33]

In 2006, the process of delimitation had “been under way for six years already. So far, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan only agree[d] on 993 kilometers of the state border 1,375 kilometers long. The remaining 382 kilometers of the state border are not on maps and therefore keep fomenting border conflicts and mutual distrust.”[34]

A 2009 report said, “a lack of funding has greatly hindered border demarcation efforts. … Complex terrain and conflicting Soviet-era maps – printed at a time when defining the borders was not a pressing issue – present the toughest obstacle to delimitation.”[35] Nevertheless, an intergovernmental commission on the delimitation and demarcation of the border held its first meeting after a five-year break on 29 December 2010.[36]

A 2013 report stated, “Kyrgyz Deputy Prime Minister Shamil Atakhanov and Uzbek Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Azimov are … [discussing] [t]he situation in Kyrgyzstan’s Barak exclave inside Uzbek territory and water-distribution issues along the countries' border. … About 300 kilometers of the 1,000-kilometer-long Kyrgyz-Uzbek border have remained disputed since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.”[37]

“The existence of four Uzbek enclaves in the territory of Kyrgyzstan and one Kyrgyz enclave in Uzbekistan is a major problem in the negotiations[.] … Currently, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan have delimited some 1,058 kilometers of the border (the total length of the border is 1378.44 kilometers), which accounts for over 70 percent of the total length of the two countries' border. Nearly 50 sections with about 300 kilometers length [still] haven't been delimited.”[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The exclave of Barak, Kyrgyzstan in Uzbekistan. Retrieved on 2 May 2009
  2. ^ Mitchell, Laurence (2007). Kyrgyzstan (1st ed. ed.). Chalfont St. Peter: Bradt Travel Guides. p. 267. ISBN 1841622214. 
  3. ^ Kimsanov, Mirlan. "Residents of Kyrgyz Enclave in Uzbekistan Feel Like Castaways". EurasiaNet. Retrieved 25 January 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d e RFE/RL (12 May 2011). "Kyrgyz In Exclave In Uzbekistan Want To Relocate To Kyrgyzstan". EurasiaNet. Retrieved 28 January 2013. 
  5. ^ Map showing the location of the Kyrgyz village Barak. Retrieved on 2 May 2009
  6. ^ a b c Megoran, Nick Solly (24 May 2004). "To Survive, Villagers Buck Uzbek Border Controls". EurasiaNet. Retrieved 28 January 2013. 
  7. ^ Megoran, Nick (15 Mar 2000). "Bad neighbors, bad fences". Asia Times Online. Retrieved 2014-03-15. 
  8. ^ Gavrilis, George (22 Sep 2008). The Dynamics of Interstate Boundaries (Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics) (1 ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 120–121. ISBN 978-0521898997. 
  9. ^ a b Azizov, Demir (18 Feb 2014). "Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan intensify work on delimitation and demarcation of state border". Retrieved 2014-03-15. 
  10. ^ Борис ГОЛОВАНОВ (22 Feb 2002). "Продолжаются споры по линии прохождения узбеко-кыргызской границы. Неделимы Сох, Барак и Гавасай". Вечерний Бишкек. Retrieved 2014-02-15. 
  11. ^ Blua, Antoine (4 Nov 2004). "Central Asia: Enclave Residents Face Numerous Hurdles". RFE/RL. Retrieved 2014-03-15. 
  12. ^ Megoran, Nick Solly (24 May 2004). "To Survive, Villagers Buck Uzbek Border Controls". EurasiaNet. Retrieved 2014-03-15. 
  13. ^ Kimsanov, Mirlan. "Residents of Kyrgyz Enclave in Uzbekistan Feel Like Castaways". EurasiaNet. Retrieved 25 January 2013. 
  14. ^ "CENTRAL ASIA: Focus on conflict prevention in Ferghana Valley". IRIN. 22 Jul 2004. Retrieved 2014-03-15. 
  15. ^ Reeves, Madeleine (18 Mar 2014). Border Work: Spatial Lives of the State in Rural Central Asia (Culture and Society after Socialism) (1 ed.). Cornell University Press. 
  16. ^ a b c d e "Kyrgyz In Exclave In Uzbekistan Want To Relocate To Kyrgyzstan". EurasiaNet. 12 May 2011. Retrieved 2014-03-15. 
  17. ^ Megoran, Nick (2004). "Political Geography". The critical geopolitics of the Uzbekistan – Kyrgyzstan Ferghana Valley boundary dispute, 1999–2000 (Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge CB2 3HU, UK) 23: 733 (731–764). 
  18. ^ Megoran, Nick (2002). THE BORDERS OF ETERNAL FRIENDSHIP? The politics and pain of nationalism and identity along the Uzbekistan-Kyrgyzstan Ferghana Valley boundary, 1999-2000. (Thesis). Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge UK. p. 40. 
  19. ^ Megoran (2002), op. cit., p 134.
  20. ^ a b c "Central Asia: Border Disputes and Conflict Potential". "ICG Asia Report". N° 33. 4 April 2002. 
  21. ^ Megoran (2002), op. cit., p 42.
  22. ^ Megoran (2002), op. cit., p 43.
  23. ^ Megoran (2002), op. cit., p 44.
  24. ^ Megoran, Nick (15 Mar 2000). "Bad neighbors, bad fences". Asia Times Online. Retrieved 2014-03-15. 
  25. ^ Megoran (2002), op. cit., p 45.
  26. ^ Megoran (2004), op. cit., p 739-740.
  27. ^ Megoran (2004), op. cit., p 752.
  28. ^ Megoran (2004), op. cit., p 753.
  29. ^ Gavrilis, George (22 Sep 2008). The Dynamics of Interstate Boundaries (Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics) (1 ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 120–121. ISBN 978-0521898997. 
  30. ^ Megoran (2004), op. cit., p 733-734.
  31. ^ Pannier, Bruce (26 April 2001). "Uzbekistan/Kyrgyzstan: Prime Ministers Agreed On Land Swap". Retrieved 2014-03-15. 
  32. ^ a b Борис ГОЛОВАНОВ (22 Feb 2002). "Продолжаются споры по линии прохождения узбеко-кыргызской границы. Неделимы Сох, Барак и Гавасай". Вечерний Бишкек. Retrieved 2014-02-15. 
  33. ^ a b "CENTRAL ASIA: Focus on conflict prevention in Ferghana Valley". IRIN. 22 July 2004. Retrieved 2014-03-15. 
  34. ^ "Delimitation of the Uzbek-Kyrgyz state border is questionable". Fergana News. 29 Nov 2006. Retrieved 2014-03-15. 
  35. ^ Khamidov, Alisher (14 August 2009). "Stringent Border Measures Fueling Tensions in Enclaves, Measures to stop the movement of arms and drugs are complicating travel and business in the Ferghana Valley.". Transitions Online. Retrieved 2014-03-15. 
  36. ^ "Kyrgyz, Uzbek Officials Restart Border Delimitation". RFE/RL. 5 Jan 2010. Retrieved 2014-03-15. 
  37. ^ "Kyrgyz-Uzbek Border Talks Start In Tashkent". RFE/RL. 26 Mar 2013. Retrieved 2014-03-15.