Reconstruction Plan To "Ethnically Cleanse" Osh, Uzbeks Fear
Osh will be rebuilt into a “modern metropolis,” moving families whose houses were damaged during last month's violence onto plots outside of town. Many Uzbeks oppose the scheme. They suspect some officials helped organized the June violence, which gutted Uzbek neighborhoods in central Osh, to make way for extravagant modern government buildings and housing projects. In a speech to her new government on July 16, provisional President Roza Otunbayeva threw her support behind the project.We made a decision to approach a restoration of Osh city on a different level. It will be done on the basis of general plan of reconstruction. But, we will have to try to minimally affect interests of those who lived and still living in the zone of future reconstruction. All of them in the case of transfer of the housing will not only receive a compensation for the property, but also new, I think, more comfortable land plots instead of those that will be going for state needs. We ask our citizens to be sympathetic to this. [...] We will approach this selectively: those who want to live in the houses will have such an opportunity, and those who want to receive a modern housing will get apartments.The announcement, after weeks of hints from local and federal officials that those who lost their homes in central Osh would be encouraged to relocate, has many Uzbeks certain the violence was orchestrated. Soon after the fighting, the Osh mayor floated the idea
of constructing apartment blocks over the Uzbek neighborhoods.According to some estimates, more than 2,500 houses were either destroyed or severely damaged during the unrest in Osh and surrounding regions.A local NGO worker, who lives in one of central Osh's charred neighborhoods, responded that this is merely a campaign to “ethnically cleanse” the city. “To do this [reconstruction plan], certain Uzbek neighborhoods have to be removed. If you look at the Osh map, you can see that houses were burned and people were killed in those areas populated by ethnic Uzbeks where the authorities want to construct new roads, governmental buildings, and trading centers according to Otunbayeva’s ‘general plan,' he said.”
David Trilling is Eurasianet’s managing editor.