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Tajikistan & Kyrgyzstan: Interethnic Clash Shines Light on Fraying Social Fabric

Villagers in Kok-Tash dig a canal on August 9 along the lane over which they clashed with the neighboring Tajik community. Cross-border arguments over small-town problems between Kyrgyz and Tajik villagers are not uncommon: Kyrgyz authorities say they registered 30 cross-border clashes in 2014 alone. (Photo: Peter Leonard)

Interethnic rioting in early August along the border of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan started over a narrow, uneven lane about a couple hundred feet long.
 
At one end of the path is a handful of poorly tended burial mounds — a cemetery used by Kyrgyz in the surrounding village of Kok-Tash, which is also home to many Tajiks. An older burial ground, now overgrown with waist-high weeds, stands at the other end of the lane.
 
Not too long ago, a Tajik built a small, tree-lined compound, the mud brick walls of which blocked access between the two spots. That caused hard feelings among Kyrgyz. Village elders tried unsuccessfully to resolve the ensuing impasse. Ultimately, words gave way to brickbats, with Kyrgyz and Tajiks engaging in two days of clashes.
 
“There used to be a way to the cemetery,” local Kyrgyz leader Raziya Osorova told EurasiaNet.org, offering an account on how the rioting erupted on August 3. “We asked to be given a two-meter-wide passage, but they wouldn’t give it to us. They built a wall blocking the way.”
 

To read the full story

Peter Leonard is EurasiaNet's Central Asia editor.

Tajikistan & Kyrgyzstan: Interethnic Clash Shines Light on Fraying Social Fabric

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