For years, Kyrgyz herders from Osh’s hilly outskirts would come down to Ozoda Salieva’s house and take her cow and several sheep, and, for a small fee, fatten them up in a summer pasture. Salieva, a 73-year-old pensioner, says it was a long-standing tradition.
But in the early summer of 2011, when herders came to her house, Salieva’s family told them to go away. Clashes between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks – Kyrgyzstan’s largest minority – in June 2010 left Salieva’s predominantly ethnic-Uzbek neighborhood, Cheremushki, a smoldering ruin. Her family came to distrust the Kyrgyz.
Five years after the tragic events that left over 400 people dead across southern Kyrgyzstan, the wounds are still fresh. Prosecutors disproportionately targeted ethnic Uzbeks, though it was mostly ethnic Uzbeks who suffered the violence. Few ethnic Kyrgyz have faced prosecution in connection with the events, which began June 10, 2010.
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Alisher Khamidov is a writer based in southern Kyrgyzstan.