Kyrgyzstan’s death toll could be 10 times higher than reported

Roza Otunbayeva promises to rebuild Osh

By Aibek Karabayev and Alisher Karimov

2010-06-18

OSH – The interim government is calling for peace in Kyrgyzstan and is promising to rebuild Osh.

The interim government’s press service recommended that the press cover events in the south, by referring only to official sources and speaking “exclusively in a neutral tone” while on the air.

The recommendation came after a June 17 incident in which a newscaster cried on air while describing the refugees’ suffering, Central Television Channel employees said.

The government also asked media not to broadcast images of destruction, victims, blood, corpses, wounded and not to call the conflict “interethnic”. The government urged media outlets to broadcast uplifting cinema and “neutral content such as Soviet-period films in Russian” calling for peace instead.

Interim government head Roza Otunbayeva, visiting Osh, asked journalists not to criticise the government for inaction. Otunbayeva arrived in the city square by helicopter after inspecting the city from above. Otunbayeva visited hospitals, giving them nine ambulances and speaking with the patients. She promised to rebuild Osh and to help the area’s victims. She also promised local families that the government would investigate the disappearance of their relatives.

Otunbayeva characterised the events in Osh and Dzhalal-Abad as terror and a humanitarian catastrophe and once again blamed Bakiyev’s family. She contested the Health Ministry’s report that the conflict had claimed 192 victims, and said that the number was closer to 2,000 since many were immediately buried before sundown.

A Bishkek state commission concluded that Bakiyev’s family is responsible for clashes in Mayevka. The village’s victims received KGS 50,000-100,000 in compensation.

The situation in Osh and Dzhalal-Abad has greatly improved, correspondents report.

Uzbeks and Kyrgyz have begun to trade hostages, said Commandant Timur Shershenaliyev, press secretary Osh Oblast.

Barricades remain on Osh’s streets, but the city council has asked residents to remove them.

A number of shops have opened in Dzhalal-Abad. People have come out on the streets and offices have re-opened. Several people have returned home, but many continue to take shelter in border areas.

The Defence Ministry’s press services reported finding two fuel tankers rigged with bombs, which sappers then cleared.

The conflict has affected approximately 1m people and displaced nearly 300,000 from their homes, according to the World Health Organisation. Uzbekistan has officially registered 800,000 refugees.

Refugees are receiving humanitarian aid from Israel, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkey, the European Union and international organisations.

Meanwhile, in Moscow, Secretary-General Nikolai Bordyuzha said the CSTO does not plan to send peacekeeping forces, Interfax reported.

“We are looking into sending specialists to the country who know how to plan and prepare operations to prevent mass riots, identify instigators and locate criminal groups that provoke the exacerbation of (such) situations,” Bordyuzha said.

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