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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora