Violence in Kyrgyzstan: Now The West Pays Attention

By Angelika Arutyunova

Born and raised in the Uzbek city of Samarkand (mostly populated by Tajiks), I know intimately what ethnic tensions in Central Asia mean. The news coming out of the South of Kyrgyzstan in the last five days are unfortunately not the first time when the Fergana Valley is seeing bloodshed, but probably the first time it is showing in the news in the west with this much attention.

One can only hope that this attention will translate into real action on behalf of the international community, and not only now during the immediate conflict to provide emergency humanitarian aid to hundreds displaced and thousands affected by this week’s ethnic clashes in Osh and Jalalabad.

Voices that we hear coming from women’s rights activists from Kyrgyzstan are reassuring us about the strength of civil society that has grown tremendously in the past two decades and is outraged by the current events and is ready to respond to the needs of the people most affected by the situation. Advisor Anna Kirey wrote to us, “It is very hard for me to express what it feels like in Kyrgyzstan right now. There is a group of women's NGOs that organized a hotline for people in the south to provide information and support. They had two operators, now are increasing to four but many more are needed and we don’t know when this will end.”

And as always, our concern about gender-based violence is being confirmed by Anna’s report that “there are a lot of different efforts by different organization but little attention paid to gender-based violence.” Labrys, the LBT group under Anna’s leadership and Tais-Plus, another Global Fund grantee in the capital Bishkek, advocating for the rights of sex workers have both opened up their shelters for the Uzbeks fleeing the South of Kyrgyzstan.

This demonstrates the collective commitment to extend the services and support to anyone experiencing violence. We are honored to be working with such groups and are sending our solidarity and support to them and all the people of Central Asia experiencing these hard days.

For more information on the current situation in Kyrgyzstan:

Angelika Arutyunova is part of the ECIS Program Team


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