Kyrgyzstan (MNN) — Kyrgyzstan went to the polls yesterday to decide whether or not to change the way the government is formed. The interim administration is asking voters to approve a new constitution that would replace presidential rule with parliamentary government after the overthrow of former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev in April.
Since then, ethnic violence has broken out. Paul Tokarchouk of Russian Ministries says they just held a festival for their Schools without Walls program, which drew leaders from all over the former Soviet Union, including Kyrgyzstan. Tokarchouk says Kyrgyz leaders say the violence was unthinkable: "Ladies being raped and so on, they are tortured. That's why we had a special prayer for peace."
According to reports, more than half of the residents of the city of Osh have left the city. There are 400,000 refugees (300,000 internally displaced; 100,000 fled to Uzbekistan). Over 200 people have been killed and 2,000 injured.
Kyrgyzstan's security agency claims relatives of the country's toppled president have colluded with Taliban and other Islamic militant movements to provoke ethnic violence in the ex-Soviet nation.
Many ethnic Uzbek voters in southern Kyrgyzstan won't participate in the referendum after they were targeted by ethnic violence. Uzbeks make up about 14 percent of Kyrgyzstan's 5.3 million people.
Tokarchouk says pastors in the region have put their lives on the line. "There are some pastors and some leaders who are taking the risk to take Christians to safe places, and they are receiving threats that if [they] do that, they will be in real trouble."
The violence has disrupted Russian Ministries new Schools without Walls program. "We just started working there a year ago. [We have] opened a few School without Walls programs that are motivating and mobilizing local leaders to serve in their ethnic groups in their country."
It's uncertain if the election will stem the tide of violence. Russian Ministries is "in touch with the local leaders so that as soon as the opportunity [is there], we will be ready to provide urgent help."
Funding is needed to help prepare for that. Pray that God would provide for that and that He would allow many to see the need for this.