About the Author: Christian Wright serves as Information Officer at U.S. Embassy Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan.
When violence broke out in Osh on June 11, I was in Washington, D.C., packing to move my family to Kyrgyzstan. With apprehension, I watched the images of plumes of smoke rising above the distinctive landmark of Sulayman's Mountain, the only World Heritage Site in Kyrgyzstan. The violence resulted in more than 300 dead and nearly 2,000 homes burned, leaving a tense situation in the south.
When I arrived at Embassy Bishkek in July, I found it bustling with an impressive group of people dedicated to helping rebuild the south, and to promote peace and reconciliation. Soon, I found myself on a plane to Osh to support the visit of Daniel Rosenblum, the Coordinator of U.S. Assistance to Europe and Eurasia. The previous day, Rosenblum had led the delegation to an international donors' conference in which the United States pledged an additional $48.6 million in assistance. The following day, we flew to Osh in order to view the situation firsthand, and to speak with victims of the violence and civil society leaders.
Throughout the day, we spoke with ethnic Uzbeks and ethnic Kyrgyz who expressed their confusion and fear concerning the situation. The civil society leaders were all committed to peace and reconciliation, but had also lost friends and loved ones, making it hard for them to be objective about the situation. During lunch, we met with representatives of international humanitarian organizations committed to rebuilding the damaged buildings. While there is some disagreement on the best way to rebuild, everyone believes it is important that the rebuilding is done in a fair and equitable manner, and there is no involuntary resettlement.
The United States has repeatedly stated that it calls for a credible investigation into the events that occurred around June 11. I believe that an investigation is an important step to helping the people of Osh move toward peace and reconciliation.
Related Content: Rebuilding Kyrgyzstan: U.S. Pledges $48.6 Million at International Donors' ConferenceFollow the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs on Facebook and Twitter.