Kyrgyzstan: Rights advocate attacked for ethnicity
Osh-based human rights activist Izzatilla Rakhmatullayev was targeted by those citizens who are overwhelmed by their “patriotic” sentiments. Mr Rakhmatullayev, 58, told Fergana he was on his usual business route at around 1000 hours in Osh, Kyrgyzstan’s southern capital. Suddenly a racist woman with aggressive attitude attacked him and almost caused a cardiac arrest.
“This woman is known for her scandalous character,” Mr Rakhmatullayev says. “I got to know about her during the tragic events back in the summer of 2010. She was part of crowds of women similar to her, who shouted out anti-Uzbek statements.”
What exactly happened?
“I was waiting for a bus near a local university. At one point, this woman just ran into me and started insulting me based on my ethnicity. In order not to make the situation worse, because there were many young students nearby who could join her, I tried to lose her by jumping quickly into an arriving bus. But this woman did not back down, got into the vehicle and continued ranting. She continuously screamed that me and [lawyer] Husanbay Saliyev must be placed in Azimjan Askarov’s prison cell and “all Uzbeks must be shot to death,” etc. After a very short while, I couldn’t take it any more and asked the driver to stop. I fetched a taxicab to get home. My heart started bothering me due to stress. My son took me to a hospital and I am in the cardiology department at this time. I am taking oral and intravenous medicines.”
Have you encountered this woman before?
“Yes, on several occasions. Wherever she sees me in town, she would not lose that opportunity to scream at me or hit me with something…”
What was your reaction to her attacks?
“I tried talking to her calmly a couple of times; I even treated her lunch. You know, let’s live in peace and friendship, instead of all this. It seemed like she calmed down sometimes, but that wouldn’t last long. As soon as I appear her in field of vision—that’s it, she chases me, yells, curses…”
What is the general situation in Osh as far as racist and nationalist attitudes are concerned?
“There are calm periods of time, when there is nothing to note. However, as soon as media report any information on convicted rights advocate Azimjan Askarov, some unnoticeable tension fills the air, and such women attack ethnic Uzbeks and threaten them. There is aggression among the youth as well: sometimes they walk into cafes, eat and openly, blatantly leave without paying for food they ate. In the marketplaces sometimes I hear the insulting slur ‘Sarts walking around.’ It is obvious that all these provocations would not exist without bases.”
Have you reported the incident to law-enforcement bodies?
“My son contacted the local department of the National Security State Committee. An officer came yesterday and asked if I had any information on the woman who attacked me. I answered I did not know her name but would be able to identify her. That said, she’s not actually in hiding; she is seen in all ‘patriotic’ rallies and activities. But could they do with her? At most, they’ll talk to her and slap wrist and let her go… So I should perhaps be prepared for another more aggressive attack by her and her likeminded friends.
Fergana International Information Agency