June 19, 2010
It was another busy day, but a good day. Early in the day, there was talk of removing the barricade (a large bus, a 40 ft container, and several trees) to allow cars to more freely come in. But the Uzbeks are still scared to death that the Kyrgyz military will come in and attack again. They were trying to forcibly remove the barricade. In any case, there was a back way to bring in the aid and I think the right person was found to take care of the distribution. I just communicated with the Red Cross and with our community leaders to get a good system in place. I did not want to be directly involved with the distribution for fear of being accused of favoritism. However I did tell the different community leaders that I would be doing random checks to see if the aid had been fairly distributed.
Now for some more sobering news. I saw with my own eyes two dead Uzbeks who had been killed today. They had proper documents and had passed thru a checkpoint guarded by Kyrgyz soldiers. Soon after, a drunk person pulled out a knife on the Uzbeks demanding their money. The Uzbeks got scared and as they started to run away, they were shot from behind by the Kyrgyz soldiers. I took videos of the bodies, and was planning to send it to some people to show to the world. But sadly I cannot. Here’s why.
Later in the afternoon, I had to pass thru a checkpoint and the Kyrgyz soldiers were particularly cruel and demeaning at this checkpoint. I had totally forgotten that I had the camera in my pocket. One soldier found it and demanded to see what was on it. I didn’t have much choice as they were carrying semi-automatic rifles. He said, “You can’t show this to other people!” and proceeded to erase all my video clips! Then as they were asking me questions, an Uzbek with bandages around his face had stopped his car at the checkpoint and another soldier told him to come out of his car at gunpoint. This Uzbek had obviously been injured quite severely and had no weapons whatsoever. He just wanted to go home. But he was being treated as if he was a convicted criminal by the soldiers. I can see why the anger level is rising amongst the Uzbeks – especially the young men.
And to show how volatile things still are, when I was waiting on the side of the road with Tim in the 30,000 area to meet the community leader, an Uzbek lady driving past us gave me a death-scowl and then the middle finger (they know that you do this to people who you don’t like thru the Western movies they watch). This lady apparently thought I was Kyrgyz, and I can feel the anger and hatred thru her gaze. Not being Kyrgyz I did not take this personally, but I wonder how a Kyrgyz would react in such situation.
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(This is a message received yesterday from Kyrgyzstan. We have eliminated certain details in order to protect the identity of the author.)