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Protest against US military base

12.02.2012 - 18:17

Dozens of protesters outside the US Embassy in Bishkek are demanding the withdrawal of the US base from the Transit Centre at Manas, a US military base at Manas International Airport, with placards reading, “Obama, respond to us!” and “Yankee, leave our land!”, news agencies reported. They explained the reason of the protest relates to the ecological damage from due fuel emission made by the US planes. Local farmers near the air base report that planes dumping fuel during landings have damaged their crops.

“US military jets often drain their fuel during the flight and it settles on the soil of the villages near the airport,” said Karypbek Sernenov, a representative of the Bishkek-based environmental group NGO Asyr. “As a result, residents of these villages cannot grow crops in their fields. Their gardens are not producing a harvest.” Sernenov said that US authorities have ignored repeated concerns of the demonstrators.

The US Embassy issued a statement saying “there is no evidence of a scientific basis for NGO Asyr’s claim” about environmental damage caused by the air base. The embassy said that the Transit Centre is a good steward of the environment and environmental protection is included in the agreement between Kyrgyzstan and the US.

Also the protestors are considering the withdrawal of the base as being necessary because of the sharpening of US-Iran relations. They are going to apply to the country's government to demand the agreement on Manas is revoked before its expiration date. According to intergovernmental agreement, the term of the transit centre's stay in Bishkek expires in 2014.Kubat Toksobaev, a representative of New Forces of Kyrgyzstan, a group that campaigns on social issues said, “In case there will be a conflict between the US and Iran, which is likely to happen, Kyrgyzstan, as a host for an important US military base, will become a top target for Iranian missiles,” Toksobaev said.