Staunton, Feb. 21 -- Few peoples of the world have been forced to fight and then flee more often than the Kyrgyz of Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor. They initially fought the Soviets in the 1920s and 1930s as Basmachi, then fled to China only to move again when the communists took power, and retreating to Pakistan when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan.
But their odyssey did not end there. The group divided between into two: about a 1,000 who hoped to be resettled in Alaska but ultimately were forced to move to the Lake Van region of eastern Turkey and about 300 who returned to the Wakhan Corridor, hopeful they could hold out. Both hoped to move to Kyrgyzstan but Bishkek wasn’t prepared to take them in.
With the Taliban moving into their largely inaccessible region, some who had been eking out an existence in the Wakhan have been forced to flee again, this time to Tajikistan where their future is anything but secure (fergana.agency/news/122422/ and asiaplustj.info/ru/news/tajikistan/society/20210714/gruppa-etnicheskih-kirgizov-iz-afganistana-pereshla-granitsu-v-tadzhikistan).
Many would like to return to Kyrgyzstan, their ancestral home, but Bishkek, in contrast to other post-Soviet countries, has displayed an on-again, off-again willingness to help, largely because of the costs of bringing them home and integrating them into Kyrgyzstan’s life (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/10/kyrgyzstan-officials-again-refuse-to.html, windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2012/01/window-on-eurasia-kyrgyz-who-fled.html and windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2016/11/kyrgyz-who-fought-bolsheviks-in-central.html).
Now, the saga of the Wakhan Kyrgyz appears to be coming to an end. Kyrgyz President Sardyr Zhaparov has committed himself to bringing all the Kyrgyz abroad home, including the Wakhan Kyrgyz in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Turkey (ritmeurasia.org/news--2023-02-21--put-domoj-kak-kirgizija-vozvraschaet-na-rodinu-zhitelej-kryshi-mira-64792 and ritmeurasia.org/news--2023-01-26--bishkek-prinimaet-vse-mery-dlja-pereselenija-etnicheskih-kirgizov-iz-afganistana-64330).
He says that the plight of these peoples weighs on his mind and that he is personally committed to ensuring that all Kyrgyz abroad return home and have what they need including housing and livestock to live the traditional Kyrgyz way of semi-nomadic life that other Kyrgyz have lost but that they continue to embody.