Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Osh Burning

If you can find Osh on a map, you're special. It's in Kyrgyzstan, near the Uzbek border, and is - or was - an ethnically mixed city. News reports are filtering out; here's a firsthand email from a Russian living in Osh:
"We are in the center of a war in Osh, Kyrgyzstan. It is impossible to imagine the horror of the situation here!! The news is only reporting a small portion of what is actually going on. It is ethnic cleansing if you can call it that. Whole blocks of Uzbek homes have been torched and burned. Women and children are being mercilessly killed. Many bodies and injured people are lying in the streets without anyone to help. Kyrgyz youth under the influence of alcohol and drugs are running wild in the streets killing anyone and burning whatever lies in their paths. This ethnic tension (between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks) has existed under the surface for many years but recently has been stirred up for political purposes. Because of this, it appears that authorities are doing nothing to stop the conflict and are silent. It seems that the whole situation was planned out in advance and that no one planned to put a stop to it.

"One of my relatives went out today at great risk to get groceries for his household. On his way he saw an old man badly injured who was lying in the street. He wanted to help him and turned him over onto his back. Immediately a group of young men ran up and starting kicking the old man fiercely. My relative heard one of these youths say, "He's Kyrgyz" Another said, "No he's Uzbek, let's set him on fire." When my relative returned the old man lay burned to death. Officially the government has issued an order to shoot to kill anyone with a weapon but in reality no one is carrying out this order. These horrendous acts are continuing to take place. Police and soldiers are patrolling the streets but doing nothing to stop the violence. Last night bandits broke into an army storage facility where weapons, helicopters, tanks, etc were stored. We couldn't imagine where these simple people had obtained so many weapons before and now they have even more weapons, plus army equipment! On top of all of this there is a shortage of food as the stores have been vandalized. When our food supply runs out we will go hungry. The news is reporting that humanitarian aid is getting in but the supply is very limited. Not long ago bread was given out but for some reason they refused to give it to the Russians. We are not concerned about humanitarian aid, we simply want to live!

Some news reports are saying that things are getting more stable but the truth is it is getting worse. My goal in writing this is to the get word out to the world about what is actually happening here. We are afraid that we will be forgotten and alone in this crisis with no one coming to our aid. Presently they are not coming against us as Russians but we believe it is only a matter of time before they turn on us. People have "tasted blood" with no consequences and will not stop the killing. We are living in a state of fear.

Please send this information out to as many people as possible. This is our urgent plea for help."
Our prayers go out to those living in and fleeing from Osh.


Chops said...

CS Monitor describes some of the big-picture issues here and sources allege that the Bakiyev politics/crime family is to blame for the violence.

jwitwer said...

Praying for those living in and fleeing Osh is good and definitely needed, but how to we practically help these people?
Who do we pressure to provide help?
What can we do?

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