When in doubt, blame the Islamists

Yesterday’s in southern Kyrgyzstan and today’s bombing in Bishkek have once again raised the spectre of Islamism over Central Asia’s “island of democracy”. But is there any substance behind the “Islamism” label? neweurasia’s Mary Pole sees something much more sinister at work. “The context of oppression and intimidation of the ethnic Uzbek minority in Kyrgyzstan,” she writes, “and the frequent use of the word ‘Islamist’ and ‘terrorist’ in justifying arrests and detention in many of these cases [are] indicative of a concerning trend.”

Destroyed livelihoods and lost hope in Osh’s bazaar

Osh’s bazaar, located on the left bank of the Ak-Bura river, has changed dramatically over the decades, but never so much as when violence swept through the city this past June, destroying almost all the infrastructure of the bazaar. Guest blogger Mary Pole reports, writing, “A former thriving hub of commerce is now a shell of destroyed livelihoods and lost hope,” with heartbreaking photos at the end of the post.

Life goes on in southern Kyrgyzstan, but the walls tell a different story

In the ruins of Osh, the meaning of June’s terrible events are contested not only at the level of voting and rhetoric, but on the very walls. Guest blogger Mary Pole reports on the battle being fought through graffiti for the heart and soul of a torn city. “A glaring reminder of the violence is painted on walls in and around Osh, despite recent attempts to paint over the markings,” she writes.