Kyrgyz army “fails to defend ethnic Uzbeks from Kyrgyz looters”
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Violent clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks have left more than a hundred people killed and 1,500 injured in and around the city of Osh. An ethnic Kyrgyz and an ethnic Uzbek from the city give us their accounts of the situation. Read on...
Photo posted on neweurasia.net 13 June.
Violent clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks have left more than a hundred killed and 1,500 injured in and around the city of Osh, in southern Kyrgyzstan. An ethnic Kyrgyz and an ethnic Uzbek from the city give us their accounts of the situation.
Since the interethnic clashes broke out on Thursday night, tens of thousands of ethnic Uzbeks - a minority population in Kyrgyzstan - have fled to neighbouring Uzbekistan. In the city of Osh, the epicentre of the violence, bodies litter the streets and hundreds of cars and houses have been gutted.
What sparked the clashes remains unknown. But Kyrgyz authorities on Monday said that they had arrested "a well-known person" on suspicion of fomenting the riots. The country's interim government - brought into power after the former president was ousted during riots in early April - called on Moscow to intervene on Saturday. The Russian government has so far rejected the appeal.
A divided city
People write “Kyrgyz” on their car to avoid attack. Image posted on neweurasia.net 13 June 2010.
The green shop has been spray-painted “sart” (derogatory for Uzbek”). The white/ red shop has been labelled Kyrgyz. Image posted on neweurasia.net on 13 June 2010.
“I believe the army is neutral”
Alymbek, an ethnic Kyrgyz, is a member of the Liberal Youth Club in Osh.
I fled to a village outside of Osh on the first day of the conflict. However, I am able to get back into the centre - today I went to pick up relatives and bring them back here. I would say that the situation is normalizing today. The army and law enforcement bodies - which I do believe are neutral - are taking measures to disperse the youths and the looters.
On the first night we really had no idea who was behind the clashes. Whoever it was used weapons to stir up inter-ethnic tension. And it worked - when rumours started spreading, Kyrgyz started attacking Uzbeks and vice versa. The situation escalated when Kyrgyz from local villages came into the city to seek revenge."
“We can’t leave the neighbourhood to get food and medicine because we’re afraid of being killed”
Araz (not his real name) is a young ethnic Uzbek from Osh. He prefers to remain anonymous.
I am currently hiding in Mahalya [a central Uzbek neighbourhood]. There is no gas or electricity here. No food. No medicine. We have heard that the government and ordinary people from Bishkek are distributing food and medicine, but nobody has brought anything to us. And we can't leave the neighbourhood to get stuff for ourselves because we're afraid of being killed.
I am a Kyrgyz citizen. This is my city, my country. I am here to defend my relatives and my property. I am not planning to leave. Women, children and elders have been taken to Uzbek villages near the Uzbek-Kyrgyz border, but as a man, I will stay behind.
These clashes were definitely organised by certain powers. Where did ordinary people get their weapons from? Where are the snipers from? This looks like organised genocide to me.
The army is biased. Soldiers and policemen did nothing when Uzbek neighbourhoods were being destroyed - they let young Kyrgyz men loot and destroy the properties of Uzbek people. Another example: we had blocked the entrances to our neighbourhood to stop looters and killers from getting in. But the army came with their armoured personnel carriers to destroy the barricades. After doing that, how can we say the army is here to help us?"
The violence in amateur images
WARNING - SOME OF THE IMAGES MAY BE DISTURBING
Ethnic Uzbeks line up dozens of victims' bodies. Video posted on YouTube by "MrMspojke" 13 June 2010.
The city of Osh up in smoke. Video posted on YouTube by "imediasub" 12 June 2010.