“Every day, in our mobile clinics and health facilities with which we collaborate, our medical teams treat patients who recently suffered heavy beatings or who even show signs of torture. Many people, especially from the Uzbek community in Osh, told us they are not going to a public medical structure as they are afraid of being arrested,” says Andrei Slavuckij, MSF programme manager for Kyrgyzstan.
Southern cities are still patrolled by the army, and many in the population do not trust doctors, fearful they might not respect the principle of confidentiality.
MSF workers have confirmed that discrimination is taking place. One nurse said that armed men prevented a woman and her five-year-old son from entering a hospital even though the kid had injured himself falling from the second floor of a building. MSF had to take them home to treat the child.
In the past four weeks, MSF has treated 51 people victims of assault and battery. At least five of them said they were also tortured.
A MSF team had to follow a man to his home to treat him for a gunshot wound because he refused to go to a hospital.
Another man said that a group of men broke into his house. “I am not sure it was police,” but they beat “me and my brother. They wanted to know if my brother was involved in the murder of two policemen. After 20 minutes of torture, I said ‘yes’. [. . .] They did not allow him to see a lawyer.”
Other patients have said that people have disappeared during police raids without leaving a trace.
In June, the United Nations found that 2,277 houses were destroyed or damaged in Osh Oblast; an additional 400 suffered the same fate in Jala-Abad Oblast.
During the June violence, about 375,000 residents fled the area, a large number to Uzbekistan. Many others are still living in tents and dare not go home.
MSF has been in Kyrgyzstan since 2006 and now can count on 45 employees, 19 foreign.