Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Kyrgyzstan Officials Again Refuse to Help Pamir Kyrgyz

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 7 – Most post-Soviet republics have developed programs to attract back to their territory co-ethnics who for one reason or another have moved abroad. Some of these programs have been quite successful; others have not – and one of the most troubled, largely because of financing, has been that of Kyrgyzstan.

            Today, Kyrgyz officials formally refused to provide additional help to a Kyrgyz family who had returned to the republic from Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor after the members of the family made a video appeal for assistance (vesti.kg/obshchestvo/item/65290-zamglavy-narynskoj-oblasti-chto-my-mozhem-sdelat-k-sebe-domoj-pozvat-i-zhit-s-nimi.html).

            The authorities suggested they had already been doing a great deal for the family in question and were not in a position to do more (fergana.agency/news/111448/). But Bishkek’s record is less than sterling. After organizing Kyrgyz language courses in the Wakhan, it attracted a small number of Kyrgyz from there but some of them fled Kyrgyzstan shortly thereafter.

            Two years ago, 48 Kyrgyz from the Wakhan came to Kyrgyzstan but within a year, 18 of them had returned to Afghanistan despite the war going on in that country, a move that suggests they did not feel welcome in Kyrgyzstan (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2018/07/pamir-kyrgyz-returning-from-kyrgyzstan.html).

            And at about the same time, Bishkek announced that it was not planning to establish a program to repatriate the Pamir Kyrgyz, as the community in the Wakhan Corridor is known, because it lacked the resources to do so (centrasia.ru/news.php?st=1498110660 and 24.kg/obschestvo/55351_pamirskie_kyirgyizyi_cherez_1015_let_oni_mogut_ischeznut/).

            The Pamir Kyrgyz who number fewer than 5,000 in all and who many predict will disappear within a generation or two have one of the most remarkable histories of any small ethnic group in the 20th century.  They fought as basmachis against the Soviets before fleeing to China before the communist takeover there.

            Then, they fled to the Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan before escaping to Pakistan in 1978 following the communist coup in Kabul. They hoped to move to the US state of Alaska but were blocked in that attempt and then accepted resettlement about Lake Van in eastern Turkey (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2016/11/kyrgyz-who-fought-bolsheviks-in-central.html).

            The Pamir Kyrgyz had hoped to be able to move to Kyrgyzstan after the fall of communism and the political problems that blocked their entry into the United States, but now almost 30 years later, most of them have lost hope. Bishkek’s latest refusal to help will only add to their pessimism. 

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