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Osh E-mail
Asia - Kyrgyzstan
13 August 2010

Bustes melons and military in Osh, Kyrgyzstan

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The recent riot's results we had seen in Bishkek, but Osh was much, much worse. Uzbeks and Kyrgyz had clashed on June 10, 2010, resulting in 400 casualties and thousands wounded, as well as the destruction of most of the Osh Bazaar.

According to Wikipedia: "An explosion of violence, destruction and looting in southern Kyrgyzstan on 11-14 June 2010 killed many hundreds of people, Kyrgyz and Uzbek got killed and destroyed over 2000 buildings, mostly homes, and deepened the gulf between the country’s ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbek." Local media reported that gangs of young men armed with sticks and stones smashed shop windows and set cars aflame in the city center. Several buildings and homes across the city were also set on fire. The city's police force proved incapable of restoring order resulting in a state of emergency being declared and the army being mobilised. The Kyrgyz intelligence agency claimed that the 2010 violence was initiated by the just-deposed president, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who is said to have made a deal with foreign narco-jihadist gangs: jihadists take over southern Kyrgyzstan and initiate a shariah state in exchange for the Bakiyev family's being returned to controlling Bishkek. However, to the day no serious proof has been presented to the public and media. According to various sources, up to 100,000 ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbek refugees fled to Uzbekistan. Many refugee camps have been organized in the Andijan, Fergana and Namangan regions of Uzbekistan for citizens of Kyrgyzstan who cross the border seeking safety.

Then a few weeks later we arrived. Tension was still high with military in the streets, often questioning us about our presence. The Osh Bazaar laid in total destruction and it was shocking to roam around there. Outside the city we went to the Sulayman Too for a fantastic panaromic view over the city and the area. This mountain is also Kyrgyzstan's only UNESCO World Heritage listed site.

Osh was also the city with our worst night in six months: I smashed hundreds of mosquitos and still new ones kept coming.

After our adventure in Osh, we boarded an old man's taxi to take us to the Uzbek border, which was actually closed due to the turmoil, but we were giving it a shot anyway.