News / Asia

Scale of Ethnic Violence in Kyrgyzstan Remains Mystery

There are no exact figures on the scale of ethnic unrest that has hit southern Kyrgyzstan. They are lost in the chaos of what happened.  No one is even certain why the violence erupted.  Official casualty figures are contradictory and considerably lower than unofficial estimates.   All that is known is that many people are dead and as many as 100,000 refugees, perhaps more, have been forced to abandon their homes in the cities of Osh and Jalalabad and other towns. 

The United States and United Nations have condemned the violence in Kyrgyzstan.  So too has Russia.  But the international community has not responded to official and unofficial Kyrgyz requests for military assistance to stop the bloodshed.  

In Moscow, a member of the local Uzbek community, Sherzad Rakhmanov, cited the need for urgent outside help. "First of all [we're asking] to organize a corridor, not simply open the border, but to deploy some forces, which could lead people out who cannot get out of their houses, who are under siege, to help them cross the border, at least into Uzbekistan because it is the nearest country," Rakhmanoz said at Kyrgyz embassy.

International humanitarian assistance is arriving.  But food and water are scarce after armed looters raided stores of supplies.  Many Uzbeks are hiding in basements, afraid for their lives if they leave.  Uzbekistan has accepted as many as 100,000 refugees. Thousands more are reported trapped in a no-man's land between the violence at their backs and a frontier ahead of them.  "The entire city is in a state of panic - you see for yourselves. Because all people have children," said Galina Nikolayevna, an Uzbek refugee.

The number of dead is not clear.  Official reports vary between 124 and 200.  But news reports indicate no one knows how many corpses remain in the streets, how many have been burned or the number of those buried in private by their families.  This lends credence to unofficial estimates of as many as 1,000 dead.  

The violence erupted on Friday, but the cause is not clear.  Explanations range from a fight between a Kyrgyz and Uzbek over an unpaid taxi fare to a plot by Kyrgyzstan's ousted president Kurmanbek Bakiyev to regain power.  His base of support was in southern Kyrgyzstan, where local Uzbeks opposed him.  Bakiyev denies any role in the violence and blames interim authorities for failure to protect the people.  

Orunbai Suleimanov is a Kyrgyz who volunteered to patrol the ethnically-mixed Anoshin neighborhood of Osh. "I'm telling all the Uzbeks: there is nothing to fear. Let them live normally, nobody is going to harass anyone and nobody is going to say bad words about others," he said.

But sporadic gunfire means people are being harassed.  Blood has been shed, people have been turned away and their homes set on fire.  There seems to be no going back and the way forward remains uncertain.

You May Like

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition More

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends 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.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs