News / Asia

    Southern Kyrgyzstan Gripped by Ethnic Violence

    An ethnic Uzbek holds his head in his hands as he stands beside the wreckage of his burned out home in Osh, 14 June 2010
    An ethnic Uzbek holds his head in his hands as he stands beside the wreckage of his burned out home in Osh, 14 June 2010
    Peter Fedynsky

    Officials say the unrest that began last Thursday in Kyrgyzstan has so far killed at least 124 people and wounded more than 1,600 others,  but Uzbek community leaders and Red Cross officials say the death toll is much higher.

    Many homes are reported on fire in the cities of Osh and Jalalabad and other towns of southern Kyrgyzstan, where gangs of the majority ethnic-Kyrgyz population went on a killing spree against Uzbeks on Friday. There has also been widespread looting of Uzbek shops.

    The International Red Cross estimates about 80,000 refugees have fled the unrest, mostly women and children. They went to Uzbekistan or are stuck on the border with that country. Men are staying behind to protect homes and remaining family members.

    In addition to the scores of reported deaths, about 1,500 people were injured. Some Uzbeks are claiming there have been considerably more fatalities.

    Avas Saipov, whose journalist son, Alisher Saipov, was murdered in Osh in 2007, confirms widespread reports of corpses lying in city streets. He spoke from an undisclosed location in southern Kyrgyzstan.

    Saipov says even the dead cannot be properly buried. He says many corpses are instead being burned to destroy evidence of crimes being committed.

    The younger Saipov was a stringer for VOA's Uzbek Service.

    On Sunday, elders representing the Kyrgyz and Uzbek communities met in Osh to discuss ways to stop the violence. They shared a loaf of bread in a symbol of friendship, but their call for peace has gone unheeded. The level of animosity is described by Kyrgyz Health Minister Damira Neyazalieva, who gave blood in Bishkek for victims in Osh.

    The health minister says there were appeals for help from the Jalalabad hospital, where an ambulance left the facility but was stopped on the way. She says the ambulance was seized by unidentified people, and the doctors were taken hostage, beaten up and injured.

    Several instances of ethnic violence in Central Asia during the past 20 years are indirectly attributed to borders drawn between Soviet republics by communist dictator Josef Stalin. Historians say those borders were created on purpose to divide and conquer ethnic groups by pitting them against one another.

    Many Uzbeks and interim Kyrgyz President Rosa Otunbayeva are blaming the latest round of unrest on ousted Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, whose base of support was in southern Kyrgyzstan. Ms. Otunbayeva says his motive is to disrupt a constitutional referendum on reducing presidential powers scheduled for later this month.

    Mr. Bakiyev denies any role and blames interim authorities for failure to protect the people.

    The United States, the European Union, Russia and others have expressed growing alarm about the situation. In Moscow, President Dmitri Medvedev called a meeting of its allies in the Collective Security Treaty Organization to discuss the matter. Russia and the United States both have air bases in Kyrgyzstan.

    Interim Kyrgyz leader Otunbayeva has asked Russia for military assistance to bring the violence under control. Avas Saipov and others say international peacekeepers are needed to stop the violence.

    Related video report by Robert Raffaele:

    You May Like

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells California Republican Convention delegates the campaign will be 'a battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of the June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    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