Helping the People of Osh Move Toward Peace and Reconciliation

Posted by Christian Wright
August 4, 2010
People Gather in School Yard in Osh

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.



Massachusetts, USA
August 4, 2010

Feruza in Massachusetts writes:

I absolutely agree that a credible investigation is a crucial step towards reconciliation between Uzbek and Kyrgyz people.

James A.
August 5, 2010

James A. in Kyrgyzstan writes:

hey guys, seen my photos from my trip south to the mountains near China?
I have been to Osh, Very bad there, Sure wish people would think before they do stuff.

New Mexico, USA
August 5, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@James A.,

Do you think folks have learned from this?

And since you're on the ground there, what specificly are the locals doing to reach out to resolve divisions among their communities?

Too bad there isn't an "App" created yet for nationwide "group therapy" sessions.

Pamela G.
West Virginia, USA
August 8, 2010

Pamela G. in West Virginia writes:

Again and again this nation has bitter infighting with losses on both sides. We cannot be expected to pick up the pieces and rebuild every time; they need to learn to take responsibility for their actions and look to us for help in negotiations only.


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