Usually, I don’t blog about current news- there are enough blogs and websites out there that focus on that and, frankly, they are much better than my blog. But this is a special case. The current conflict in Kyrgyzstan has been flying under the radar, especially due to the World Cup coverages, even though thousands of people are dying and many have been displaced by the violence. So as a tribute to the innocent who died as a part of the growing tension towards the minority Usbeks, I will focus this blog on the ethnic conflicts in Kyrgyzstan. (Warning: because Kyrgyzstan is relatively an unknown country and due to the fact that the event is pretty current, there is not a lot of definitive/confirmed information on this. So what I have is the bare minimum)
Kyrgyzstan is a Central Asian country bordering China and Uzbekistan. Though the country is very destitute and lacking in essential minerals and oil, it is a strategic country for both the U.S. and Russia. Since 2001, the country has been the host of an American military base, which has been used extensively in as the supply station for the soldiers in Afghanistan. It is also a close kin to Russia as, unless the collapse of the Soviet Union, it was a USSR satellite state. 5 million people inhabit the country, including both the majority Kyrgyzs and the minority Uzbeks. Until the 1990s, these two main racial groups did not consider themselves as “ethnic”; rather, they considered themselves as just “Central Asians”. However, with the maturity of the new generation who began to trace their ancestral roots, they started to distinguish between the two groups. Slowly, the tension between the two Kyrgyzstan built up. Kyrgyzstani government also did not help the growing racial tension. The government, especially its President who has been driven to exile due to the increasing violence towards him and his administration, is grown to favor the majority Kyrgyzs, often at the expense of the minority Uzbeks. In addition, both the Kyrgyzs and the Uzbeks (but especially the Uzbeks) are unpleasant with the government. During their first election, they were promised democracy and equality, but as soon as the new regime took office, they violated people’ s personal liberty and restricted political opposition.
The current conflict began in January of 2010 when the brewing tension between the people and the government and between the two ethnic groups reached a climax and grew considerably more violent. There were massive protests towards the government, demanding that the President step down from office since he never fulfilled his promise of bringing democracy to the country. When he refused, the people clashed with the government which sent in the army to try to keep order. But at the same time, ethnic violence surfaced in the southern part of the country. Riots began on June 9th, 2010, when the troops sent in by the government (which are mostly Kyrgyzs) turned against the Uzbeks in the cities of Och and Djelalabad. The clash this past Sunday killed over 700 people (most believe the figure to be higher and will most likely go up) and injured more than 1000 people. The President has escaped, and a transitional government, backed by the U.S., Russia, and China, has been formed to reign over the country. But violent clashes are still occuring and will continue to occur, according to experts, especially since the transitional government is extremely ineffective and is without help from the international community. Neither the U.S., nor Russia, nor China want to be actively involved in Kyrgyzstan since they view it as an internal affair and since they are afraid that any move they make will ruin their delicate and strategic relationships with Kyrgyzstan. The ethnic conflicts have been condemned by the U.N., but as of today, it has not taken any drastic action to better the situation.
Information courtesy of the New York Times, Le Monde, Figaro, Wikipedia, the UN, and CIA Factbook