Most of you probably never heard of Osh or Jalal Abad, two Central Asian cities located in southern Kyrgyzstan. I visited both of these cities in 1999 as part of my 4 month contract work with the American Councils for International Education (ACCELS/ACTR) where I ran the Freedom Support Act’s “Future Leader’s Exchange” program for high school students. This is how I remembered Osh with it’s famous Suleiman Too (hill or mountain):
Suleiman Too is a famous pilgrimage site for women wanting to become pregnant (from one direction Suleiman Too looks like a pregnant woman) and just as a religious pilgrimage site (The Prophet Suleiman is rumored to have died here – from another direction the hill looks like an old man). It is famous to both the Kyrgyz and Uzbek, both ethnic groups that make up Osh.
Here is what the above site looks like now:
About 3 days ago, armed gangs in Osh started taking the streets targeting Uzbeks and their homes. Over 100 people have been killed and roughly 80,000 Uzbeks have fled their Osh homes for the Uzbekistan border. The media is calling this an ethnic unrest between the Kyrgyz and Uzbeks. Similar riots between the two ethnic groups have occured in 1990. There are a lot of finger pointing to who started this unrest, most goes to the ousted President Bakiyev who is currently exiled in Belarus. Jalal Abad was his stronghold and he may be using these unrests to destabilize the current interim democratic government of President Roza Otunbayeva.
President Otunbayeva has asked the Russians to help but they have refused at this time. It seems that the Kyrgyzstani militia cannot contain the unrest in both Osh and Jalal Abad. There has not been an official response from both Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, both countries that have sizable military forces that could be used to calm the unrest. Turkey has been mute as well, the Turkish Army could play a crucial role in calming the region. Uzbeks seem to distrust the Kyrgyz-majority militia. The Turks could play a neutral role between the two ethnic groups and possibly as a leader of any peace keeping force in the region.
Overall, though, it seems that the world really does not care about what is happening in southern Kyrgyzstan. The World Cup is taking center stage in all media outlets including Turkey and the Muslim world. Muslims, in general, do not even seem concerned that Muslims are killing Muslims in Central Asia. This is sad. All Muslims threw an uproar when the Israeli forces stormed a Turkish charity ship bound for the Gaza Strip yet they are mute now.
For me, I am just doing my part to help give Kyrgyzstan some world media attention. Click on the links below and watch the videos in regards to the Osh/Jalal Abad Unrest. When the time comes, be prepared to give aid to these regions. They are going to need it real soon…
Twitter Updates on the Osh/Jalal Abad Unrest
Online news stories on the Osh/Jalal Abad Unrest
- Kyrgyzstan Violence: Conspiracies Abound – Registan.net
- Osh burning again – Registan.net
- Is Osh quieting down? – neweurasia.net
- UN chief Ban Ki-moon alarmed by Kyrgyzstan clashes – BBC
- I call it a massacre – neweurasia.net
- Thousands flee Kyrgyzstan unrest – Al Jazeera
- Kyrgyz ethnic class spreads, Russia sends troops – Reuters
- Osh: Videos from the scene – neweurasia.net
- Violence Spreading in Southern Kyrgyzstan; Uzbekistan Reacts Slowly to Refugee Crisis – eurasianet.org
- Panic at the border As Uzbek Refugees flee unrest in Osh – eurasianet.org
- Osh events in photos – neweurasia.net