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
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid