Two scholars draw on experiences in Osh, Jalalabad and Bishkek to decipher central Asia’s first popular uprising
To answer these questions requires an assessment of what makes Kyrgyzstan politically distinctive within central Asia, as well as an account of events across the country in the days following the second round of parliamentary elections on 15 March 2005.
The Kyrgyz uprising began with protests in the southern cities of Jalalabad and Osh against the official announcement of the election results. These meetings initially focused on the question of why pro-government candidates defeated in the first round of elections were victors in the second, which people attributed to electoral malpractice and bribery.
For two weeks, crowds of angry people stood on the main square in front of government buildings in the two cities. On 18 March several protestors in Osh were beaten and injured in attacks by soldiers and special police forces. They were not cowed, but split into groups of 100-200 people who variously went on to storm almost all administrative buildings – the regional and city administration, the police and security service headquarters, and the prosecutor’s office. Many others roamed the streets, wielding rubber batons they had seized from the militia, and blocking traffic. They said they would unblock the traffic only when state television in Bishkek broadcast a report about events in the south.