Events in the city of Osh in 2010 through the eyes of a witness

Narrated by S., 15 years old


Pogroms in the city began in the morning of June 12, 2010. Even earlier, to be exact – about one o’clock in the morning, after the big fight between the Uzbeks and Kyrgyz near the hotel “Alai”. As soon as I woke up, I saw my aunt running around in panic. She said that the war had started…The war between the Kyrgyz and Uzbeks. At that time, I was working as a construction worker, helping my brother, and was about to go to work. But then it became clear that leaving the house was not a good idea.

It seemed that no one expected such events to occur. Before that, we all lived peacefully and suddenly, this happened. Even yesterday, we – Uzbeks and Kyrgyz – studied in the same school together, shared everything with each other. We went to school together for eight years. Everything occurred so quickly, as well as unnoticed. Some used to say that clashes between the races will break out, like in the 1990’s, but no one believed it.

Bakiev, the president of the Republic, had abruptly raised the prices on electricity and communication services. The capital answered to that. For a week, Bishkek was seized by turmoil, however, it soon ended by itself. And now again, but in the entire country: Osh, Dzhalal-Abad.

The morning that day was especially dreary. It’s as if heavy, leaden clouds were hanging over the quiet houses. But the silence of the hidden city is so deceptive and fragile. It was broken by bursts of sub-machine gunfire and screams of the running people somewhere in the nearby quarters. The street was filled with black, foul smoke – the cars were burning. That same day, the school named after Hamza was set on fire, the Cheremushki district burned down – it was burned completely, to ashes. The market in the central district was burned down as well. This massacre began at the hotel “Alai” along the Gagarina street, through the Kyrgyzstan street past the Regional hospital. Such was its path. Burning houses, the killed and the wounded – all of this was on the streets, I don’t know what for, and what from. All of this was happening as in a dream, a prolonged, dreadful dream.

People had been killed in our quarter – one of the neighbors was shot right in the heart, when he was coming home from work. But the thugs didn’t dare to enter the district. They passed through somewhere below, wanted to from above, but couldn’t. Тhe people rebuffed them. At night, a vigil was arranged. My brother was on duty, I didn’t sleep, stood by the door and guarded our house. Concrete bricks were put on the roads, so that tanks couldn’t drive through them. This continued for ten days: battles, pogroms and murder. Uzbeks abandoned their houses and ran, the Kyrgyz plundered and set fire to the remaining property. The police and soldiers did not get involved in anything that was happening.
It became impossible to remain in the city, in ten days, we moved to the village named after VLKSM for about two weeks. Humanitarian aid was allocated for the refugees, but it didn’t reach Uzbeks at all. Those who didn’t have provisions – starved. Only later did the food and water arrive from Uzbekistan.
Uzbeks suffered most of all, but Kyrgyz citizens have suffered too. The Roma suffered as well – they were attacked by both Uzbeks and Kyrgyz, the Uzbeks burned their houses with rage. Everything started spinning at once. It became incomprehensible and I wanted to wake up soon…
My friends called me, saying that it wasn’t them, but the Kyrgyz visitors from far away kishlaks. There were rumors that the barbarians had been bribed, that they were paid for their participation in the disorders, given vodka to drink. The name Melis Myrzakmatov was mentioned – mayor of Osh – as one of the masterminds of the slaughter, and the Uzbek deputies were talked about too, who hoped to snatch for themselves a seat in the government.
The war had passed, but its mark remained. Those who could run – left, those who remained – lived in fear. The houses of Uzbeks were visited by the now-awakened from confusion, representatives of law and order. However, instead of searching for the true perpetrators, they pursued the Uzbeks once again. They detained the wealthiest of them, tossed around ammunition, demanded money. A curfew was imposed in the city: those, who came out of the house from 6 in the evening to 4 in the morning, were taken to “monkey house”, where they were tortured and beaten. Sometimes, they started the round-ups, forced all the Uzbeks to go outside and like in Russia, checked their documents. I was lucky: I walked like “their own”, and nobody touched me.
After all of this, I moved to Russia. My mom had brought me here, so I could continue going to school and master some useful profession. I anticipated this moment. Now, many go to Russia, hoping to obtain citizenship, and those who are more wealthy go further, to Europe – run, where their eyes are looking. Because of this massacre, many, very many had left. My relatives say that now, everything is getting worse, everything had become more expensive. I don’t know whether it can occur again, but it is no longer a first clash. After all, something similar occurred in 1990. Probably, time will tell. But why all of this had occurred – I still do not know…
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