Ethnic tensions in Kyrgyzstan’s Kurdish community

Protestors in Petrovka (27 April 2009)

Protestors in Petrovka (27 April 2009)

Yesterday saw an ethnically-motivated riot in the small Kyrgyz village Petrovka, some 40 kilometres from Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. About 100 people have been arrested following a rampage through the town where they attacked homes of ethnic Kurds. Several homes were destroyed and dozens of cars were smashed.

Authorities are investigating whether or not the rioting had been caused by ‘ethnic, racial, or inter-regional hatred.’ Original reports coming from Petrovka claimed Russian and Kyrgyz villagers were seeking revenge on the Kurdish community for the alleged rape of a young girl by a 21-year old Kurdish man. Authorities now deny the rape took place and are blaming opposition groups for the riots.

Area of Kurdish populations in Kyrgyzstan

Area of Kurdish populations in Kyrgyzstan

There are some 30,000 ethnic Kurds in the Kyrgyz Republic. Most arrived in the late 1930s and early ’40s from Soviet Georgia and Soviet Azerbaijan as part of Stalin’s purges and measures to empty the regions along the external borders of the Soviet Union from populations that potentially might be sympathetically disposed towards the neighbouring states, ie Turkey and Iran. Most of the Kurds in Kyrgyzstan today are Shi’i.

In 1987-88, ethnic conflict in Kyrgyzstan and neighbouring countries of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan forced many of the Kurds to leave these republics. Most of them settled in Krasnodar (southwestern Russia), where many Kurdish refugees from Armenia were located.

In Petrovka, there are approximately 100 Kurdish families and they have been there since the beginning of the 1990s. Some 200 local Russians and Kyrgyz gathered today in town (photo) to demand that all Kurds leave the village within 24 hours or face violence.


50 arrested after riots, The Straits Times, 27 April 2009,

Investigators suspect ethnic hatred behind mass fight in Kyrgyz village, Kyiv Post, 27 April 2009,

Kyrgyzstan Arrests 100 After Anti-Kurdish Riots, EasyBourse, 27 April 2009,

Russian villagers attack Kurdish homes in Central Asia, Reuters, 27 April 2009,

van Bruinessen, Martin. The Impact of the Dissolution of the Soviet Union on the Kurds, Paper presented at the international conference on Islam and Ethnicity in Central Asia, St Petersburg, 14-18 October, 1995.


8 thoughts on “Ethnic tensions in Kyrgyzstan’s Kurdish community

  1. Hi
    I am very sorry what happen to the little girl, I hope the police in Kyrgyzstan caught the gulty mane and take him to court and put him to prision. Otherwise it is very esenttial to caugh all peole that attack Kurdish in Kyrgyzstan and take all of then to court because all of them rasism

  2. long live Kurdistan
    greetings from turkey to our kurdish brothers in krgyzhstan

  3. From London> Greetings to all kurds especially krgyzhstan since kurds have a hard time among some rascist people there. Stay strong >

  4. Hi to everybody,
    i feel sorry for my kurdish brothers and sisters in Kyrgyzstan, they were forced to leave Kurdistan about 80 years ago and moved them to Kyrgyzstan, it wasnt their choice, i wish you live in peace. i hope i hear from kurds i wana know more about them email me please i am kurd as well living in
    london- UK
    kind regards

  5. the man is already convicted for the rape of a little girl, and is now serving time in jail

  6. its time for the russian duma to promote the right of return to kafkas kurds.
    200 000 kurds were with out provocation driven out of their homeland by stalin.
    the sor kurdish republic need to be reeastablished either as a part of armenia , or as a sovereing republic with in the unified state of russia-belarus-abkhazia-south ossetia.

  7. Dear all,

    I am a Kurd from Kyrgyzstan and sould inform you that we Kurds are respecting the rules of this country and have no problem at all with all ethnic groups. We do not claim any terretory as we know very well we are deported by Stalin by force. We are very much interested to move peacefully to our beloved Kurdistan of Turkey to live closer to our 15 million Kurds in Kurdistan. If not we do ask the governmet of Kyrgyzstan to protect us as we are powerless. We would like to thank all Kurds around the world who expressed their support to our problem. Long live Kurdistan, long live peshmarga, long live the struggle of our nation in Iraq (6 million), Iran (10 million), Syria (2 million) and Turkey (15 million) and in X-USSR (2 million).
    Kurdra Azadi

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