The Kyrgyz Government has declared that it has lost control of the southern city of Osh to anti-Uzbek rioters. Few Jewish media outlets or humanitarian organizations have reported on the condition of Jewish communities living throughout the country, including in the embattled cities of Osh and Jalal-Abad.
Ethnic violence between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in the former Soviet, Central Asian republic has flared up before, often under mysterious circumstances. The southern portion of Kyrgyzstan is home to a sizable Uzbek minority with different political sympathies than the Kyrgyz that live alongside them. The conflict seems to concern
border disputes between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan rooted in the Soviet Union’s collapse southern ethnic Kyrgyz loyalties to the deposed president, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, unlike Uzbeks, who generally support the interim government. With Jews, Meskhetian Turks, Uighurs, Tatars, Ukrainians, Kazakhs and Tajik’s all visible minorities throughout the land, the cities seem to be going up in flames, and the United States vying for power in a strategically important crossroads, the current violence is destined to have an impact on the contours of Jewish life in the country.
Today, Kyrgyzstan is home to about 2000 Jews, many of whom are Ashkenazim who settled in Soviet Central Asia after fleeing the Hitlerite fascist onslaught in Eastern Europe. The Joint, Lubavitch and other Jewish organizations are currently operating in the country, but little has emerged from them since violence erupted in Bishkek last April.