Medecins Sans Frontieres reports continuous violence in south Kyrgyzstan
Photo © Alexander Glyadelov, MSF website
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), an international humanitarian and medical aid organization, says that it observes violence in south Kyrgyzstan on daily basis. It produced a movie, dedicated to its work in Kyrgyzstan and disseminated message in English and French, reporting continuous violence and gap between Kyrgyz and Uzbek communities, fear and distrust that undermine normal life and that ethnic Uzbeks in Osh and Jalal-Abad oblasts, as well as one month ago, cannot access medical aid.
The film, produced by MSF and dedicated to its operations in Kyrgyzstan
Although it has been over one month since the tragedy in the south the ethnic identity still matters at accessing medical services.
“Every day, in our mobile clinics and health facilities with which we collaborate, our medical teams treat patients who recently suffered heavy beatings or who even show signs of torture. Many people, especially from the Uzbek community in Osh, told us they are not going to a public medical structure as they are afraid of being arrested,” says Andrei Slavuckij, MSF Program Manager for Kyrgyzstan.
“In such a tense and volatile context, we call on all responsible authorities to preserve the neutrality of medical facilities. It is essential that any patient who needs care can receive adequate treatment, regardless of their origin,” insist MSF physicians that urge to take armed people away from hospitals.
66 year old Uzbek woman, assaulted in Osh, says: After being beaten I came here to see doctor. I was in the town and I am afraid to go back there. I need X-ray picture. If I am accompanied there I will go. Otherwise, just give me tranquilizers.
On June 11-16 the medical facilities had lots of patients: both Uzbeks and Kyrgyz were getting medical service. Later on wounded Uzbeks stopped visiting physicians, preferring to invite doctors to mahallah or simply stay home. MSF notes that at the moment many Uzbeks still face troubles accessing medical service. MSF already escorted 25 patients to the hospitals.
"This 5-year old kid fell from second floor. When we were approaching the hospital his mother, seeing armed men, refused to go in. We had to take the boy back and take care of him at his home. Many people suffer from deceases these days while we are not able to help everybody". (MSF nurse)
MSF crews help assaulted people at least twice a day; in the last four weeks, MSF helped 51 assaulted patients. At least 5 of them said they were tortured.
"I do not know how they broke in my house. I am not sure it was police. They were beating me and my brother. They wanted to know if my brother is involved in the murder of two policemen. After 20-minute torture I said "yes" although he is the leader of local community and of Islamic guidance. They do not allow him to see lawyer. (38-year old man, Osh).
There is continuous violence in Osh. On July 10, Uzbek woman was beaten by Kyrgyz women in front of police office.
"One wounded man decided to stay home despite ballistic wound". (MSF nurse).
MSF confirms that police raids often take place in Uzbek mahallah that result in disappearance of people. Psychological deceases only get exacerbated. Kyrgyz and Uzbek communities still distance away each other. Uzbeks do not trust local authorities and do not believe they will improve their situation.
"I am afraid for our boys. They have to hide and not sleep in the night. Five days ago despite mother’s protests police officers came back in the night and took the boys". (50-year old woman, Osh).
"Three days ago they came to see who was living in the tents. Our complaints remained unanswered in the government". (The leader of Uzbek community).
In the opinion of MSF, people mostly need psychological support. At the moment, there are four MSF psychologists working in Osh and Jalal-Abad. They provide both group and individual consultations.
Last week MSF psychologists revealed over 180 patients with psychological disorders, including kids.
"Both Uzbeks and Kyrgyz need urgent psychological assistance. However, it is even more urgent in Uzbek mahallahs – it is like to experience the earthquake". (Anya Volts, MSF Coordinator in the Osh Oblast).
"I cannot sleep. I see nightmares. I am in constant fear. It is very painful to observe burned houses. I do not want to discuss what happened. I cook meals for my family, but I do not want to do it. When my kids tell me the food was not very good, I get irritated. I do not know what happened to me. I cannot control myself". (The patient from Jalal-Abad).
"People are belittled. They do not feel themselves secure. They need to calm down and figure out what to do next. They say they have no hopes: if there are new clashes, Uzbekistan will not open borders". (MSF psychologist)
The MSF statement on continuous violence and ethnic discrimination was produced in the days when Kyrgyzstan witnessed the wave of protests against the deployment of OSCE police forces. Ferghana.Ru sources report that many Uzbeks of Osh and Jalal-Abad view these policemen as the last hope for regaining safe and normal life. MSF report one more time proved that the region does not have the stability yet and only the assistance of international organizations can be solution for this challenging situation.
Prepared by Mariya Yanovskaya