Thanks to recent news coverage, we know that there has been ongoing violence in Kyrgyzstan between the Kyrgyz and the Uzbeks. But what we may not know is WHY. Whenever news coverage provides an explanation for the violence, “ethnic tension” is usually cited as the cause. But what are the roots of the ethnic tension that has continuously lead to violence between these two groups?
The real conflict seems to stem from this fact: Kyrgyz were traditionally nomadic while Uzbeks established themselves as farmers. Since farmers typically stay in one place to tend their fields, they are able to build stable settlements and create surpluses. Historically, this translates to wide class divisions. Today, the Uzbeks in the south of Kyrgyzstan own and operate many successful businesses. These economic differences are certainly a large contributing factor to the ethnic tension and the recent outbreak of violence.
The violence and instability in Kyrgyzstan affects more than just the people of Kyrgyzstan and the surrounding area. The situation in Kyrgyzstan has international implications, particularly for U.S. and Russian military strategy and humanitarian aid efforts.
Both Kyrgyz and Uzbeks called on Russia to step in as a third party peace-keeper. The Collective Security Treaty Organization, an alliance made up of regional partners and dominated by Russia, met and adjourned without a commitment from Russia to send troops, but with an implication that if conditions worsened, Russia may act. Uzbek refugees lined up around an armored vehicle with Uzbek soldiers in the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh. Courtesy New York Times, Faruk Akkan/CHA, Via Associated Press http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2010/06/14/world/0614-Kyrgyzstan-2.html
Thursday, June 10th, ethnic violence broke out in the southern city of Osh in Kyrgyzstan. Shortly after, American newspapers and news channels began covering the story.
For many of us, Kyrgyzstan isn’t a country we hear about often. We’re
likely unsure of what language Kyrgyzstanis speak, what type of
government they have, how big the country is, where it is located, and
even how to pronounce or spell “Kyrgyzstan.”
stories of violence in Kyrgyzstan on news programs and in newspapers
are nothing more than stories, confined to a 2D non-reality.