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Kyrgyz Mark 1916 Anti-Russian Uprising

(RFE/RL) BISHKEK, July 27, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Dozens of people gathered today on Bishkek's central Alatoo Square to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the 1916 anti-Russian armed revolt that was suppressed with great loss of life.

Known as "Urkun" in the Kyrgyz language, the uprising was triggered by Russia's attempts at drafting non-Slavs into the army as part of its war efforts against Germany. Anti-Russian riots took place throughout most of today's Central Asia.

Some historians believe up to 150,000 ethnic Kyrgyz and Kazakh were either killed by Russian forces or died while attempting to flee to neighboring China.

Burkan Zulkainarov, a member of the Asaba Party, told RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service today the remains of thousands who died of cold and hunger in the high mountain passes that lead to China are still lying there, unburied.

"From the Bedel Pass, which is 4,000 meters above the level of the sea, to the Chinese border flows a river whose banks are covered with human bones," he said. "I was shocked [when I visited it]. Under Soviet times there was a military garrison there and, as we were told, soldiers from Muslim [Soviet] republics were never taken there."

Although the Urkun uprising was directed against Tsarist Russia, commemorating the 1916 events was forbidden under the Soviet Union.

(RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service)

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