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

Multimedia Obama, Modi Break Nuclear Deal Deadlock

Impasse over liability issues had been stalling bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation; deal reached at start of US president's three-day visit to India More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track 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.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid