Uzbekistan (MNN) — Ethnic tension may not be the root cause
of the violence that has erupted in Kyrgyzstan over the past week. According to
the United Nations, attacks may have been "organized by outsiders," who spread
rumors of Uzbeks attacking Kyrgyz and capitalized on ethnic tensions.
With Kyrgyzstan's referendum scheduled for June 27, Todd
Nettleton of Voice of the Martyrs, USA said the instigator of the riots may not
have wanted the referendum to go through. Still, Kyrgyzstan has made no move to
change the referendum date.
Regardless of what might be the root cause of this ethnic violence,
it has created a monstrous humanitarian crisis along the border of Kyrgyzstan
As Uzbeks fled the violence, they poured into Uzbekistan's
frontier: "80,000 Uzbeks have already crossed the border from Kyrgyzstan
into Uzbekistan. They say there's another 100,000, who are at the border and
are waiting to get across," Nettleton said. However, Uzbekistan has been
forced to close its border because they simply have no more room, and they cannot
support the refugees in the country now, let alone if that number doubled.
To resolve such a crisis, Nettleton believes it will take
the world community banding together to aid refugees physically and emotionally,
as well as to dispel the violence still rippling through Kyrgyzstan's streets.
Another dilemma also is rising amongst Christian refugees: they
are leaving a country fairly tolerant of religion and entering a country that
is not only 88 percent Muslim, but a region of the country crawling with Muslim
Nettleton said, "They are entering Uzbekistan into the
Fergana Valley. So they're coming into a country with a poor religious freedom
record, and they're coming into a part of that country that is seen as sort of
a tinder box for radical Islam."
If and when they try to reach out to those around them in
the name of Christ, they may face persecution more severe than the ethnic
violence they have just survived. Yet, Nettleton points out, upheaval almost
always draws people to the Gospel, as they search for a message of peace and
hope in their distress.
"Pray for peace. Pray that the authorities will
be able to put a lid on the violence … that there will be a restoration of order,"
Nettleton said. "Beyond that, we can pray for those who've been affected
by this. We can pray for healing and help for them. And we can pray for our
brothers and sisters."
Visit the Voice of the Martyrs, USA Web site for more
prayer concerns for the persecuted church around the world.