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Media outlets incinerated; too dangerous to report

Media outlets were shut down in the midst of an orchestrated slaughter of the Uzbek community in Kyrgyzstan. Survivors are fleeing to Uzbekistan.
Media outlets were shut down in the midst of an orchestrated slaughter of the Uzbek community in Kyrgyzstan. Survivors are fleeing to Uzbekistan.

AP

An estimated 2,000 have been killed in interethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan since 10 June, say news reports. In response to the unrest, authorities in the southern city of Osh ordered local television stations to cease transmission, report the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The Public Association of Journalists (PAJ), based in Bishkek, is currently working to provide humanitarian assistance to journalists in the southern part of the country.

President Kurmanbek Bakiyev's government was overthrown by massive protests on 7 April. In the aftermath, tensions have grown between ethnic Uzbeks, who mostly support the interim government, and ethnic Kyrgyz, who mostly back Bakiyev in the south. The recent violence is widely seen as having been coordinated for political reasons so that Bakiyev can return to power, say news reports. Bakiyev is currently in exile in Belarus.

Violence first erupted between Uzbek and Kyrgyz youth in Osh on 10 June, leading to major riots. Armed gangs drove through neighbourhoods in Osh and Jalal-Abad, setting houses and stores on fire and shooting at people trying to escape, report Human Rights Watch and CPJ. In response, the government declared a curfew and sent security forces to the region, granting shoot-to-kill authority. News reports say tens of thousands of ethnic Uzbeks have fled the two cities and crossed the border into Uzbekistan to escape the violence.

Meanwhile, local media are being trampled by the fallout of the revolution. Osh residents now only have access to state television channel KTR and several Russian television channels, reported the independent news agency Zpress. Mezon TV and Osh TV were stopped from broadcasting, says the independent news site "Ferghana". The buildings of Osh TV and JTR TV in Osh and Jalal-Abad were burnt down, reports International Media Support (IMS).

In a separate episode, Uzbek police in the city of Andijan have detained a prominent Uzbek journalist, says CPJ. Independent reporter Aleksei Volosevich had travelled to the border with Kyrgyzstan to report on the humanitarian crisis for "Ferghana".

PAJ and IMS are working to deliver food and medical supplies to about 100 journalists and their families in the Osh and Jalal-Abad regions. Media coverage of events in the southern part of the country is limited as journalists fear attacks while reporting in the streets.

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