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Great losses, small victims: About Batken children affected by border conflicts

About 10 incidents occur at the Kyrgyz-Tajik border every year. In most cases they are limited to verbal skirmishes and throwing of stones, but more than once they developed into mortar shelling at civilians. The last conflict lasted for three days, several Kyrgyz villages were captured, people were killed.

Childhood of the children living in the border villages of Batken region of Kyrgyzstan cannot be called cloudless. During each skirmish, they are forced, together with their parents, to leave their homes and flee in search of a safe place, sometimes in a hail of bullets. Even in peaceful days, they live with caution so as not to become victims of attacks.

24.kg news agency learned about the fate of children who became victims of border conflicts.

Shrapnel from a mortar shell killed Madina

On the evening of April 29, 2021, Madina Rakhmadzhanova was at home with her mother and younger sister in International village, Leilek district. They suddenly heard shots, which sounded louder and louder. There was a noise, screams were heard. A helicopter was heard flying over the village.

Photo Internet. Killed Madina Rakhmadzhanova
Madina’s mother Narbubu Khamdamova grabbed her daughters and ran outside. She saw neighbors running away to the sound of gunfire and explosions. People said her she must leave through the backyards — it was very dangerous on an open street. But they did not have time to escape — a mortar shell exploded near them. Shrapnel hit all three. Twelve-year-old Madina fell down dead.

When the girl was brought to the hospital, the doctors only had to pronounce death. The wounds were found to be fatal.

According to her parents, Madina was smart and helped them a lot with housework. She observed the fast and took care of her younger sister.

Narbubu Khamdamova was also wounded. She underwent a complex surgery in a regional hospital, then underwent treatment in Bishkek.

Nurzianna: I’m afraid to go out

Madina’s eleven-year-old sister Nurzianna was wounded in the leg. After treatment in Bishkek, she and her mother returned home. The girl walks, plays with her friends.

«I am fine. But I’m afraid to go out, my friends come to my house. We play with them here. And with my classmates,» Nurzianna said.

According to her mother, Nurzianna does not remember that terrible day.

«We told her about her sister’s death, talked about what had happened. Nurzianna seemed to take everything calmly, but avoids talking about her sister and those events. The child does not show it, plays and walks as if nothing had happened. Maybe he wants to support me. After all, she is the only child now,» Narbubu Khamdamova told with tears in her eyes.

If we got to the hospital...

On April 29, 2021, five-year-old Abidin Tursunbaev, a resident of Arka village in Leilek district, fell into the canal while riding a scooter. The kid was brought to the nearest hospital, but medical workers could not provide assistance there, they sent him to Kulundu. It was not possible to get there — the road was blocked; the village was under fire.

Photo Internet. Abidin Tursunbaev

The boy’s parents had to return to the hospital in Dostuk. The death of the child was pronounced there. Abidin’s mother, with the body of her son in her arms, fled to the mountains with her fellow villagers.

Five-year-old Aizhaz lost her hearing

Five-year-old Aizhaz Murzaeva also suffered during the shelling in International village, Leilek district by Tajikistan. Taking the past events heavily, her parents do not want to communicate with journalists.

It is known that on April 29, 2021, Aizhaz was playing with other children outside. The children’s play was interrupted by an attack by the Tajik military.

Fleeing from the bullets, the Murzaevs moved to Sulukta to their relatives. Aizhaz began to complain of ear pain. After an examination, the girl and her mother were sent to Bishkek.

Aizhaz underwent treatment at the National Center for Maternity and Childhood Welfare. She still has to undergo a rehabilitation, as the girl partially lost her hearing due to shock.

I will not return home — there will be shooting again

On September 16, 2019, the family of 14-year-old Otkurbek Raimberdi uulu sat down to table to have a dinner when they suddenly heard shots. They rushed outside. It turned out that the shots were fired from Tajikistan. The family ran towards the mountains.

«It was very scary and noisy. Bullets, shells were catching up with us. Someone fell, others were running. When we hid behind some wall from an explosion, I saw that my son’s hand was bleeding. We bound it up with a handkerchief. He also had a wound on the neck. The husband was also injured. I didn’t think about myself, I only felt pain in my legs when we reached International village,» Otkurbek’s mother, Kumushai Rustamova, told.

Otkurbek had meningitis in childhood, he spoke not good. After September 16, he stopped speaking at all. Together with his parents, he underwent treatment in Bishkek.

«He does not go to school. He does not complain of pain, but walks with his arm bent,» Kumushai Rustamova told.

After a year and a half, Otkurbek found himself in a similar situation again. This time, they miraculously managed to escape the bullets — on April 29, 2021, the head of Maksat village managed to evacuate residents a few minutes before the armed attack of Tajikistan.

«This time the Tajik military first attacked our border post, we all managed to leave the village. When we were riding in a car, Otkurbek constantly hurried on the driver, making anxious sounds — he asked to speed up,» Kumushai Rustamova said.

Now he lives in Kulundu village with his aunt. He refuses to return to Maksat. He says that even if our destroyed house is restored, he will not return.

Kumushai Rustamova

Eight-year-old Sherlan and four hours in captivity

On April 23, 2019, eight-year-old Sherlan Abduvaliev was abducted by residents of Tajikistan. He played outside with his five-year-old younger brother. Residents of Vorukh stated that the boy threw a stone in their direction. They took the boy to Vorukh.

The child was returned only after negotiations between the authorities of the two countries four hours later.

«When they released him, my son was very scared, he was trembling. According to Sherlan, he was hit and scared several times. Local residents took him to Vorukh police station, claiming that the boy had attacked them. It was another provocation on their part. My son had a lot of stress. As it gets dark, he is still afraid of going into the yard,» Sherlan’s father Kenzhe Abduvaliev told.

Sherlan received treatment after this incident. According to his father, when he hears about the beginning of another conflict with neighbors, he withdraws into himself and stops talking.

Not forgotten even five years after

In 2016, three ninth-graders — Umsunai, Zarina and Nuriza — were returning from school in the village of Kok-Tash, Batken region. On the way, they came across residents of Tajikistan, who blocked the way for the girls and began to threaten them. Men and women from both sides gathered. A fight broke out.

«My granddaughter Zarina is a feisty girl, she managed to wiggle out of arms of the Tajiks, but one of the girls was unlucky. She fainted from the shock. As a result, she developed epilepsy. She was treated for a long time,» Salma Aidarova told. The girls themselves do not like to remember that day.

«Hearing about the skirmish, my son went to rescue his daughter. He was attacked by the Tajiks. He and my granddaughter then remained among the crowd of men. She had been reeling from that incident for a very long time, underwent treatment. She is doing well now, she got married. But she cannot forget that day. Now she lives far away from the border, in the mountains,» the victim’s grandfather told.

Concussion and insomnia

On April 24, 2021, two residents of Eski-Ovchu in Leilek district were abducted by the Tajik military.

18-year-old Dastan Ashrapov and 20-year-old Kubatbek Kanybek uulu were beaten by border guards and taken to their territory. After negotiations between the authorities of the two states, the guys were returned.

Then, in an interview with a local TV channel, the President Sadyr Japarov said that Tajik border guards interrogated the guys about the number of military and military equipment in Leilek district.

The guys were then severely beaten. Doctors diagnosed both of them with concussion.

Dastan Ashrapov is a student of a lyceum. He is undergoing treatment at the Republican Mental Health Center in Bishkek.

«We were treated for four days only in Leilek, then the war broke out and we were sent home. After being released, I suffered from loss of sleep, but I am recovering now. I’ll be back home soon. We will live as we have lived before,» he says.

Photo Internet. Dastan Ashrapov and Kubatbek Kanybek uulu after their release

These are just a few stories of children affected by the difficult situation at the Kyrgyz-Tajik border. They suffered physically, but there is also psychological harm.

According to the coordinator of the Ministry of Health in the region, Arzybek Borukeev, an analysis of the health and psychological state of children in the border villages has not been carried out. That is, doctors do not know about the impact of a long-term tense situation at the border on the condition of children.

Only after the last conflict doctors started working with children who had experienced military aggression.