The central Asian country of Kyrgyzstan is still assessing the damage after violence erupted a week ago. Ethnic tensions have been high since angry protesters stormed the capital city, Bishkek in April. An estimated 80 people were killed and 1000 people injured. President, Kurmanbek Bakiyev resigned.
This land-locked country of an estimated 5.5 million people was formed after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 and borders China to the east and Uzbekistan to the west. While Kyrgyzstan is traditionally a melting pot of different central Asian and Russian cultures, ethnic tension arose in the early 1990s between their close neighbors the Uzbeks (from Uzbekistan) who make up roughly 15% of the population and majority Kyrgyzs.
Roza Otunbayeva became the interim President in April 2010 and has been busy trying to calm rising ethnic tensions. In June 2010, violence erupted again, this time in the western city of Osh. According to Otunbayeva, over 2,000 people may have been killed over one million people may be in need of humanitarian assistance.
The Obama administration is keeping a close eye on the situation in Kyrgyzstan because the country is home to a vital U.S. air base that provides supplies and critical support for U.S. operations in Afghanistan. Robert Blake, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, commented, "The United States supports an investigation into the cause of the violence that took place and is still occurring in Southern Kyrgyzstan, so that everyone can better understand why this happened, and so that this can be prevented in the future."
"U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon appealed for $71 million in emergency aid. And U.N. officials said one million people may need humanitarian assistance." Judy Woodruff
"Kyrgyzstan has been in turmoil since a violent uprising overthrew the president, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, in April. The interim government blames Bakiyev and his sympathizers for inciting this new crisis." Judy Woodruff
1. Where is the former Soviet Union?
2. Which countries were created when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991?
3. Where is Kyrgyzstan?
4. What is ethnic violence?
5. Where have you seen examples of ethnic violence throughout the history?
1. What are some reasons that ethnic violence occurs?
2. How does ethnic violence affect me?
3. How can education and cultural awareness help prevent ethnic violence clashes?