Letter to the editor My multinational hometown Osh

I came to St Petersburg to work from my hometown Osh two years ago. For a long time I could not find employment, and I was forced to take any job just not to starve and pay my debts. In the very beginning I had problems with obtaining a work permit. I had to spend lots of time, money and energy and at the same time avoid the cheating firms which love to make profit from foreigners. After I got a work permit, it took a long time to find a job. In many places, as a non Russian citizen I was refused work. Those firms which accepted foreigners could cheat easily: not paying wages, imposing fines for the slightest mistakes, even though Russian citizens got paid on time and in full. Against the background of all these hardships and miseries awful news fell upon me: disturbances started in Kyrgyzstan: another “revolution”. And in my hometown Osh, a real slaughter. In a moment my country was ruined.

After work every day I called my children, and watched the news on TV. I was waiting for the situation to stabilize. The worst thing was, I could not help my family and my town. I was constantly worrying about my kids, relatives, friends (people of different ethnicity – Uzbeks, Kyrgyzs, Russians, and Tatars), with whom I worked for a very long time. In our hospital there used to be a friendly multinational staff. We always celebrated birthdays, weddings, and anniversaries together. We respected the traditions of each other, and never divided people between “friends” and “strangers”.


In the two towns, Osh and Dzhalalabad, there was always prosperity, and we the Uzbeks, were proud living there. But we found ourselves between a rock and a hard place: in Uzbekistan we are strangers, and cannot get registration for many years; in Kyrgyzstan they put artificial obstacles on our way, and violate our rights – only because of our ethnicity. I was refused employment, as I was an Uzbek. Other minorities (for example the Uygurs) also had problems. In general ethnic enmity had some basis to start.

Ethnic conflicts have already taken place in Kyrgyzstan: recent tragic events in Osh and Dzhalalabad reminded me painfully of 1990. At that time Uzbeks were brutally killed, and still nobody understands why. For last 20 years, authorities were supposed to organize special programmes to end the struggle between the nations and teach tolerance. But nobody cared about this; there was no order in the country. It did not become better after the Purple revolution – as a result unrest developed into ethnic conflict.

Those who gained from instability just made the situation worse. The former mayor of Osh, Melis Myrzakmatov, gave guns to the people and wanted the Uzbeks holding high positions in the government to be killed. While he was ruling many Uzbeks were persecuted, and many Uzbek deputies were arrested for different reasons. I am still surprised by the attitude of the world community to the Bakiyev family: how could they get asylum? The president is responsible for exactly the things which led the two nations into conflict.

We common people, Uzbeks and Kyrgyzs, have no need to divide ourselves. We and our families want peace the most. War is wanted only by those who stand to profit from it – by money or power.

Mayram Samikova

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