Jun 16

Ethnic Cleansing

The ethnic cleansing going on right now in Kyrgyzstan is breaking my heart. If you want to see some pictures, this link comes from NPR. The idea of hundreds of thousands of Uzbeks fleeing the country as armed bands of Kyrgyz burn down their shops and homes is very emotional for me. I also feel like I can’t possibly be getting the whole story no matter where I go. Is it the exiled president’s evil plan? Is it long-standing ethnic tension? I can’t believe it’s either of these things.

I say this with a caveat: I lived in Tashkent, far away from where this is taking place. From the people I met across Uzbekistan, there were always little tensions that took place. (The Russians thought Uzbeks were dirty and stupid, the Uzbeks thought Tajiks were thieves, everyone hated the gypsies, the list goes on.) But doesn’t it everywhere? I can name a few instances just this week alone of people I was with making ignorant ethnic/racial comments that made me grit my teeth. And don’t even get me started on Arizona politics. When I did live in Central Asia, that’s what I related it to. All the statements were untrue, sweeping statements that were mired in ignorance. It was not a virulent thing. But, like I said, I never lived in that area and I know it is very different culturally from where I was.

No matter what is actually going on right now, my heart is with the Uzbeks fleeing their homes. And I hope that Kyrgyzstan goes back to being a peaceful country that it has the potential to be.

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