The government of Kyrgyzstan has fallen! According to reports this morning President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who opened fire on his own people, has fled. The government has been dissolved and opposition forces have begun to assume power. Yesterday we received a report from a comrade in Russia, which gives a graphic account of these events.
Initially, the uprising began in the city of Talas, 59 km from Bishkek. The opposition in the country had designated this day for the holding of kurultais (conventions) in all regions of the country. As reported on the website Fergana.ru, on March 31, leaders of the Central Executive Committee of the United People's Movement of Kyrgyzstan - the opposition to the current government - held a press conference at which they announced that on 7 April all over the country there would be regional kurultais to “convey to the people the demands of the opposition and the kurultai of March 17.”
In mid-March, the united opposition to the authorities launched a series of demands, among them the abolition of the tariff increase for public utilities, the balancing of the books of the Severelectro and Kyrgyztelecom state enterprises, which are of strategic importance, the dismissal of the relatives of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev from their posts, as well as the cancelling of a number of legal sentences.
The time limit was March 24. On this day, we must remember, the Republic celebrates the next (fifth) anniversary of the Tulip Revolution, which brought acting president Kurmanbek Bakiyev to power. The demands were not even considered, and the commemoration went ahead without any incidents.
Tariffs for electricity and water in Kyrgyzstan since the beginning of 2010 have been increased twice. "Fergana.ru" makes clear that the opposition parties were especially active this spring, finding a cause to attract people to their side. Another trump card for the opposition was the arrest of Eugenia Gurevich, after a trial by a kangaroo court. According to the media, a businessman close to Bakiyev’s son - Maxim Bakiyev - is the head of the Central Agency for Development, Investment and Innovation.
In response, the same night the government arrested nearly all the leaders of the Kyrgyz opposition. They are charged with an attempted coup d'etat. Among those arrested is party leader Atameken Tekebayev, leader of the Akshunkar Temir Sariev (he was taken off the Russian aircraft as he was flying in from Moscow) as well as the Speaker of the Social Democratic faction in parliament, Rosa Otumbaeva, and others. The movement became unstoppable. In addition to the arrests of politicians, they began arresting journalists, and they also detained one of the leaders of Internet site "Stan TV”, Kirill Stepaniuk. The reason for the detention and whereabouts of Stepanyuk are unknown.
But this repression has not scared the people. The clashes with the opposition began on Tuesday, April 6, at the regional centre, the city of Talas. The reason for the conflict between protesters and police was the detention of one of the leaders of the opposition party Ata-Meken Swamps Sherniyazova, who intended to participate in the opposition general kurultai on April 7. As a result, Sherniyazov was released, but only under pressure from protesters.
According to local media, about a thousand people surrounded the building of the police department. The protesters demanded that the acting governor Beishenbek Bolotbekova go over to the side of the opposition, and then when it was clear that this was refused, according to several media, the mob took him hostage and announced the appointment of an alternate governor. According to others, Bolotbekov left the meeting under the protection of the police. In order to suppress the rally a plane with special forces flew in from the Kyrgyz capital.
By late afternoon on Tuesday, the disturbances were suppressed, and on the basis of the mass meetings several criminal cases were initiated. Throughout the region mass arrests of opposition politicians began. On April 6, six people were arrested, among them Bakiyev’s former colleague of the Tulip Revolution, Duyshenkul Chawton. The leader of the parliamentary faction of the Social-Democrats, the ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic, Rosa Otunbayeva was forced into hiding for fear of arrest.
Yesterday, Wednesday, April 7, the uprising spread to virtually the entire country. The opposition went onto the offensive. Events are moving with extraordinary speed. By 2pm the rebels had captured the town of Talas in the west. Around 11-12 thousand people surrounded the building of the local police department, which has been abandoned by the special riot police. At 2.20 the rebels tried to seize the city administration building in Tokmok, Chui region. A crowd of 3,000 surrounded the town hall and tried to take it by storm. All the opposition TV channels were disabled, only pro-government channels being allowed to broadcast.
At about 2.40 the uprising began in the capital, Bishkek, when a huge crowd came to the house of the Kyrgyz Government, where people tried to ram the fence with trucks. In response, government forces opened fire. Snipers fired on the crowd. There were the first victims. There were reports that the rebels had seized the regional administration in the city of Kerben, raising their own flag. Special Forces tried to prevent the seizure of the building and fired into the air, but this did not stop the insurgents, and the Special Forces had to retreat.
Later, the Kerben popular kurultai elected a new mayor - Kadyrkul Omurbek, the candidate supported by Topchubek Turgunaliev. In addition, the assembly elected the Chief of the District Department of the Interior, a local human rights activist Sartbai Zhaychibekov. Also, the participants at the meeting intend to continue the appointment of new heads of the rural management area. According to the "AKI-Fergana" website, nobody knows the whereabouts of Aksysky, the Mayor of the Talent Orozova district, whose resignation was previously demanded by the protesters.
According to reports of health workers, several people among the crowd in front of Government House were killed or wounded. According to the Ministry of Health of the Kyrgyz Republic, there have been between 93 and 100 victims. On April 6 the Ministry of Health established a special unit to coordinate the provision of medical care.
About 200 people came to the village of Pokrovka rayakimiatu. They were joined by people from all the surrounding villages. The procession closed the road and did not allow any cars to pass. The protesters planned to go further, to Karakol, to the central administration. They began meeting in the village of Tup Tyup district, and villagers from Saru, Darkhan and Barskoon Issyk-Kul region headed towards the village of Pokrovka in order to attend the rally. At the White House military trucks were burning, and now and then the Special Forces fired warning shots.
Videos of these events:
President Kurmanbek Bakiev issued a decree imposing a state of emergency for a month in the territory of Bishkek, as well as the Chu and Talas districts. No activities are to be carried out. The decree requires control over the media, limiting use of funds, and data transmission. The decree was sent to Parliament.
In Bishkek riot police from the White House fired rounds with automatic weapons into the crowd. Many were killed and wounded. The attack continued until it could go no further.
According to information we have received, in Bishkek real battles have been taking place. The people have been disarming the riot police and arming themselves with shields, batons and riot equipment taken by force from the agents of “law and order”. Riot policemen, refusing to fire on the people, started going over to the protesters with their arms in the air! At one point, the protesters took over a couple of police cars and two dark-green trucks; in the back of one of them they found a "Fly" grenade launcher. Also, the rebels seized several Kalashnikov rifles.
“The protesters seized the building of the Kyrgyz television and radio, and ransacked the building”, said a member of the NTRC. It has been reported that the Governor of Issykulsk province has been relieved of his powers. According to human rights activists in Bishkek, there are several dozen dead. A number of regional and district administrations have been seized.
Human rights activists and others fear that the Government will introduce a state of emergency and legitimise the use of firearms against the people. Already armoured units are moving in the direction of the main sources of protest.
At the present time, except for national television and entertainment radio stations other stations have not been broadcasting, that is, people are not getting any information about what is actually happening in the country.
According to one report, "The whole country is in turmoil. Meanwhile, mass kurultais have begun to appear. They are headed by representatives of opposition parties. They are being held in the city of Naryn, in Sukuluke, located near Bishkek and in Osh region.”
According to the latest reports, demonstrators have just found a sniper who was shooting at them. He was sitting on the roof of the house behind the demonstrators. He was almost caught, but miraculously escaped. While there is a temporary lull around the White House, the demonstrators go no further, but do not disperse.
The state of emergency has not yet been introduced, because a quorum was not reached. Parliament condemned the actions of the opposition. The opposition leaders are still detained. The people are on their own.
It has been reported that the Governor Issykulskoy has had his powers removed. Human rights activists have given the following information. Here is a summary of the situation at the moment: 5.09pm [April 7] in Kyrgyzstan:
“The KTD has been captured. Sasykbaeva Assia announces that he is currently preparing a broadcast on the situation on the radio, because some TV equipment has been smashed. In Talas, Naryn, Isykkulsk, Batken regions the city administrations have been seized.”
“There are reports of the seizure of the state administrations in Moskovsk, Sokuluk (Chuisk oblast), also the City Hall in the city of Tokmak, Aksy (Jalalabad), Kochkor district of Naryn oblast.
“In Bishkek increasing numbers of protesters are gathering on the square (from all regions of the republic). Unfortunately, there are casualties - more than 30 people have been killed by sniping from the roof of the White House.
“Despite this, the protesters have become more and more numerous – by killing people, the State will only increase the anger of the people. Bakiyev must stop shooting at people, and get out!
“Is the taste of power so sweet that it is worth killing people for? After all, he will have to answer not only to the children and families of the victims, but also before God? And all who do his bidding and raise their arms against the citizens are also doomed, sooner or later, to answer for their actions before the people and before God!
“The Kochkor-Bishkek road has been closed. In Talas, the demonstrators have demanded that the Minister of the Interior cancel the order on the use of weapons against the citizens, and he is severely beaten.”
Postscript (8th April)
The government has fallen! According to reports this morning President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who opened fire on his own people, has fled. Bakiyev, the hero of the “so-called” Tulip Revolution in 2005, was forced to flee the capital ignominiously after his house was ransacked by angry protesters. The government has been dissolved and opposition forces have begun to assume power.
The Kyrgyzstan Health Ministry claimed 40 people were killed and a further 400 injured during this bloody revolution. But unconfirmed reports put the fatality figure at 100. The movement, which had a purely spontaneous mass character, threw up embryonic soviets (kurultai). Yesterday power was lying in the streets waiting to be picked up.
With a conscious leadership, this heroic movement of the masses could have led directly to a workers’ and peasants’ government that would have sent shock waves through all Central Asia and beyond. Unfortunately, in the absence of a Marxist party, the leadership has fallen into the hands of the Social Democrats, who lack any alternative to the policies of capitalism.
Nevertheless, the events in Kyrgyzstan show the tremendous revolutionary potential of the masses. They show how unstable are the weak and corrupt bourgeois regimes that have replaced the former Republics of the Soviet Union. These regimes offer nothing to the people except misery, hunger, wars and oppression. They will be swept away one after another in the stormy period that is opening up. What we just saw in backward Kyrgyzstan is a mirror image of what the future holds for Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, the Ukraine, the Caucasus – and Russia itself.
More pictures in Daily Mail article.