Community voices: Jalal-Abad, Kyrgyzstan
Saidbek is a 15 year-old schoolgirl from an Uzbek school in the Jalal-Abad district of Kygyzstan involved in activities to address inter-ethnic tensions:
"I have been involved in the Community Security programme since February 2014, as a participant of joint sports games. When I heard from teachers that there are planned measures aimed at encouraging friendship between the community of Uzbek and Kygryz youth in Bazar-Korgon, I immediately expressed a desire to participate in them because my father has a lot of friends of different nationalities. I have also been raised by my parents so that I respect other people's traditions and culture. One of my main goals in life is to ensure that all children of Kyrgyzstan grow up in harmony. After the sports games and the joint events, relations between children from mono-ethnic schools in the community have become much more positive.
I have always had an opinion that there is no bad nationality, but there are just bad people. After participating in the volleyball, I've seen that there are so many good people. I saw that many also want friendship and don't want to be enemies; we are the future of our country. After participating in activities I really changed my attitude to girls, because they are equal to us. I thought that the issue of friendship could be decided only by men but I don’t think that anymore. I think I will have a good future. I want to become a pilot and after school I want to study at university in Russia for training pilots, and for this I need to study well and gather good friends".
Bazar-Korgon, located in the Jalal-Abad district in the south of Kyrgyzstan, was severely affected by the violent clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks that shook the country in June 2010. During the violence fifteen people were killed and 205 buildings destroyed, following the eruption of deep-seated inter-ethnic hostility and the inability of law enforcement agencies to maintain order. Today, people rarely speak about ethnic tensions; however mistrust persists, both between ethnic groups and between communities and government and police employees, who are perceived as taking inadequate measures to address inter-ethnic problems. Local people are particularly worried about tensions among young people; in 2013, there were more than four cases of fighting between youth in Bazar-Korgon, whose population is predominantly ethnic Uzbek, and the neighbouring village of Jeti-Koshkon, a predominantly ethnic Kyrgyz village.
Saferworld and local partner, the Foundation for Tolerance International (FTI), have been supporting the Bazar-Korgon Local Crime Prevention Centre (LCPC) to address inter-ethnic tensions within the community since 2012.