22 october 2017
Central Asia news: Ferghana Valley
The Kyrgyz-Uzbek border in the Fergana Valley remains closed and inaccessible on both sides. The status quo leaves citizens of respective countries a few choices to deal with it and resolve daily issues: buying food, trade, and observing religious rituals. Several visitors of the Fergana website and other voluntary informants told us about their life in blockade. It appears that despite tensions between Tashkent and Bishkek and the stalemate over the exact location of borderlines, local authorities, border guards, and businessmen are able to negotiate and compromise even in extreme situations. Apparently people learned how to live with each other and deal with day-to-day issues despite the conflicts at the highest echelons of power several hundred kilometers away…
Is Melis Myrzakmatov really such a significant personality for Southern Kyrgyzstan? Is he really who he says he is? We talked to a native resident of Osh, who wished to remain anonymous, about this. He says Myrzakmatov is only pulling wool on people’s eyes and cares about his own personal benefit alone. “This is just another PR stunt. He has donned the crown of a restorer and is now walking around with it. It is sad to know that our mayor is just a conspicuous individual, and journalists are supporting that,” N. says.
“At around 1800 hours on 5 January, some 50 Uzbek citizens approached the [Kyrgyz] Charbak border outpost. A road designates the borderline there, albeit it is jointly used [by both Uzbek and Kyrgyz citizens]. There were six or seven concrete [electricity] poles erected on the Uzbek territory (beyond the demarcated borderline). These people came and said the poles were erected in a wrong location. Additionally, there were holes dug [for new poles] and an informal leader [among the aforementioned Uzbek citizens] demanded they be filled up. “In the morning of 6 January, some 1,000 people came [from Uzbekistan] and were rather aggressive. Despite Kyrgyz border guards’ warning shots, they started pulling the poles down. A local [Kyrgyz] police officer was there, but they did not listen to him. Moreover, he was beaten up and his vehicle was totally damaged. Then the border guards (the Charbak outpost commander and a soldier) fired warning shots into the air. The crowd stepped back and the police officer was saved. The crowd then moved onto the village of Hushyar and tore down 10 new poles and 15 older ones, which were erected 15-20 years ago…”
Early March 2012. Another trip to the city of Osh in the south of Kyrgyzstan. In the last two years I have visited this place quite often and every time I come across some new development in the Kyrgyz-Uzbeks relationship. Indeed, there is no saying that life in Osh is fully back on the normal track. One thing for sure - the life goes on. First thing to do in Osh is to visit the “Cheremushki”, a residential area that suffered most in the June 2010 events, In June 2011, citizens were worried that the city’s mayor did not want to have the houses rebuilt. A local woman told me that donors were ready to start the reconstruction and waited for a permission but “mayor Myrzakmatov would not issue such a permission, as he wants to compel Uzbeks away and use the free land anyway he wants”.
On January 11, a new chief of police was appointed in the Osh city police department. According to the local online news agency, the new police chief Suyun Omurzakov used to be a deputy minister of interior and a representative of the Kyrgyz ministry of interior in Russian Federation. Personnel of the Osh city police department confessed that new appointment of Mr. Omurzakov came out of the blue. In various media, Mr. Omurzakov has been regularly called a very influential drug lord, a leader of organized criminal groups and a loyal supporter of the former president Bakiev.
The night before he was stabbed and burned to death, a small-town cop named Maktybek Suleimanov brushed off his wife's pleas that he stay home and sit out the commotion on the streets. Suleimanov had wanted to be a policeman ever since he was a kid growing up in this turbulent corner of Central Asia. He'd ask his mother to pin strips of fabric to his t-shirt so they'd resemble rank insignia. Sometimes he'd go so sleep that way. Now Suleimanov was 41 years old, had four kids of his own, and wore real shoulder straps of a police captain. A broad-faced ethnic Kyrgyz with a buzz-cut and a thin mustache, Suleimanov was a gregarious man who liked to sing at family gatherings. He had been a cop for 20 years.
In June last year, the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh was struck by a terrible tragedy. In the inter-communal conflict - provoked by cruel and cynical gangsters - more than four hundred people were killed and thousands were injured. Hundreds of private homes were looted and burned down. As things gradually died down, refugees returning to the their neighborhoods found they no longer had anywhere to live. In autumn, with the help of foreign donors, the authorities began building transitional housing for victims of the violence. In this photo essay, "Ferghana" is looking at the conditions in which victims are now living now that real winter has reached southern Kyrgyzstan.
The workers of Kylym Shamy human rights center (Kyrgyzstan) conducted serious work and prepared a revised list of people, killed in the June tragedy. The list is not final yet and it does not have all the last names of deceased people. There are still 36 unidentified bodies and some missing people, but the Kylym Shamy representatives decided to publish their own information about victims and caused damage, since official information is still not available. Aziza Abdirasulova, the head of Kylym Shamy, shared with Ferghana correspondent about the work, how the list was prepared and how it differs from official information.
The number of trials over the instigators of Osh conflict is in progress in southern Kyrgyzstan. The list of defendants has no policemen, representatives of authorities or real criminals, deeply involved in the bloodshed. The list of convicts mainly includes the civilians and also, by the way, ethnic Uzbeks. Thus, 4 locals were convicted in the Kara-Suu district for alleged incitement of ethnic hatred in the night of June 11, 2010. Also allegedly, they were using the religious faith places – the minarets of the mosques. Other district dwellers, adjacent to the city of Osh, were sentenced to three years of jail because they had written down SOS at the road near their houses.
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.
Osh chronicles: The residents of the devastated Teshik-Tash residential area are still waiting for local authorities to pay attention to them