News / Asia

Ethnic Unrest Grips Southern Kyrgyzstan

Multimedia


Hundreds are dead and hundreds of thousands have been driven from their homes following a week of ethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan.  The victims have been ordinary people, including women and children.

Rape, pillage and plunder.  The phrase is associated with pirates and barbarians of old.  But such madness is widespread today in southern Kyrgyzstan, where an ethnic Kyrgyz majority has perpetrated a furious attack on the local Uzbek minority.

The official death toll after eight days of violence is around 200, but interim Kyrgyz leader Roza Otunbayeva says the actual figure may be higher; an exact count lost in the chaos.  Businesses have been looted and burned.  Homes have also been set ablaze. The United Nations estimates as many as 400,000 people have been driven from the area.  There are also numerous reports of young girls being raped.

In the city of Osh, Matlyuba Akramova says her 16-year-old relative was raped when she came out of hiding to bandage her father's head following an attack.

Akramova says a crowd saw the girl and immediately assaulted her in front of her father. She says what was done to the girl is not even done by animals.

An Uzbek doctor in Osh told reporters many victims are reluctant to speak about their experience.  And a researcher with Human Rights Watch, Anna Neistat, says the number of victims is difficult to determine.

"I just documented at least one case where I spoke to the woman who was raped and it is clear that this is not the only case. There are several other women here in the very same location, so I think by now I can say with confidence that cases like this did happen. The question is the scale," said Neistat.

Alisher Khamidov, a Central Asian researcher with Johns Hopkins University, says that kidnapping by criminal gangs is another crime being committed.

"They're taking hostages of rich ethnic citizens, and they're demanding ransom for their release.  So the state government structures are unable to restore order, totally," said Khamidov.

The United Nations, the United States, Russia and others are providing humanitarian assistance to refugees.  As many as 100,000 refugees may have crossed into Uzbekistan.  Others are huddled on the Kyrgyz side of the border.  

Already traumatized by the recent violence, many refugees face more difficulties ahead.  Calvin White is a mental health specialist with Doctors without Borders in one of the refugee camps.

"As each day passes they are going to be more and more wondering about their futures. And there's going to have to be some answers. And that's when the real stress is going to begin. It's when they get to that position when they are going to say, 'Now what? What's going to happen to us?'" said White.

Another question is what will happen to the perpetrators.  Alisher Khamidov suggests, perhaps, nothing.

"Several thousand young men have participated in the clashes that have taken place in the past few days.  And the problem is that it is very hard to identify those young men, because as soon as the conflict subsided, most of those young men quickly changed their hats.  Now they are civilian population," said Khamidov.

In a sign the violence is subsiding, interim Kyrgyzstan leader Roza Otunbayeva finally arrived in Osh.  Security concerns prevented an earlier visit.  She promised to rebuild the city and allow refugees to return.  And U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake visited refugee camps in Uzbekistan ahead of meetings with interim officials in Kyrgyzstan.

You May Like

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid