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Sexual violence amidst ethnic conflict

Decem­ber 2011, France
© Asso­ci­ation for Human Rights in Cent­ral Asia

I. Intro­duc­tion
“How can I go on liv­ing?” was the ques­tion posed by almost every
woman who suffered from sexu­al viol­ence dur­ing the eth­nic con­flict in
south­ern Kyrgyzstan.

Dinara Chokotaeva

Fol­low­ing the oust­ing of Kyrgyzstan’s pres­id­ent Kur­man­bek Baki­yev on April 7th 2010,
a new viol­ence between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks sparked off in the city of Jalal-Abad. By
June it had spread to the south­ern city of Osh. While the con­flict between the two
eth­nic groups was not the first one, this turned out to be the most ser­i­ous out­burst of
viol­ence over the past two decades.

Accord­ing to offi­cial data, pri­or to the events of April 2010, eth­nic Uzbeks made
up approx­im­ately 14.7% of the pop­u­la­tion of South­ern Kyrgyz­stan, while accord­ing to
inde­pend­ent sources – up to 30 %. Most of them were urb­an res­id­ents.
This prob­lem affects and con­cerns many people in south­ern Kyrgyz­stan. We want to
do all we can to help the vic­tims resume a nor­mal life.

The tre­mend­ous cruelty that char­ac­ter­ized the events of June in south­ern Kyrgyz­stan
has shocked us all. A large num­ber of people have suffered. The chron­icle of these
events will con­tin­ue remind­ing us of these crimes that can­not be for­got­ten or jus­ti­fied.
Today, the vic­tims of this eth­nic con­flict don’t feel pro­tec­ted, espe­cially women and
chil­dren who were invol­un­tary wit­nesses and vic­tims of these abhor­rent acts.
The media and the inter­na­tion­al com­munity fol­lowed and repor­ted on the Osh con­flict.
How­ever, much about this tragedy has been left untold, includ­ing the sexu­al viol­ence. This report only presents the stor­ies of a few of the vic­tims, who are in ser­i­ous need of help.
Pho­to­graph: author unknown Both sides of the eth­nic con­flict have
com­mit­ted crimes against help­less women and chil­dren as a revenge
tac­tic against one anoth­er. These women and chil­dren were tor­tured,
raped, and murdered. Their rel­at­ives and loved ones have to
con­tin­ue liv­ing amongst us, with a heavy weight of pain and suffering.