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We want to forget it - director of hostel for foreigners about pogroms

The largest hostel for foreign students in Bishkek became one of the epicenters of the riots on the night of May 18. While the main part of the crowd was rioting at the intersection of Chui Avenue and April 7 Street, part of them went to destroy another building located up the street.

As the director of the hostel, Sajjad ​​Ahmed, told 24.kg news agency, the crowd broke into the building from three sides. They broke through the basement window, the fire escape, breaking down the steel door, and the main entrance by tearing the steel gate from its hinges. The tenants hid in their rooms, but this did not save them. The attackers kicked doors, broke windows, entered rooms and beat students.

Sajjad asks why did this mob attack them? After all, there are students from Pakistan and mostly girls living there. Pakistanis are friendly people in fact and do not bother anyone in Kyrgyzstan, he said.

«The local guys fought not with the Pakistanis, but with the Arabs. Why did they touch us? We have more girls living here, defenseless, weak. They were scared. When the crowd gathered outside the hostel, students called us and the teachers in fear. We came here and protected them. But closer to 1 o’clock in the morning, the crowd broke into the building and began to destroy everything. Two teachers were seriously injured. We have already sent them home. There are other victims whose noses were broken or they were beaten. The intruders broke down doors and took away valuables and money. At about 3 o’clock in the morning, the police arrived and the crowd left,» director of the hostel recalled.

As Sajjad ​​Ahmed noted, at the time of the attack, there were about 500 people in the hostel. These were students, their guests and teachers. There are over 200 rooms, and 70 percent of them were damaged. The damage has not yet been calculated, because the hostel management is busy sending students home. But the number of people there is not decreasing — other foreigners who work, but are afraid to continue living in rented housing, also come in search of safety. Many of them also want to fly home.

«Edil Baisalov (Deputy Head of the Cabinet of Ministers. — Note of 24.kg news agency) came to us. He met with students and our ambassador. They promised to pay compensation to the victims from the government. One of these days we will start counting the losses and hope that they will help us restore the building. We all love Kyrgyzstan and the Kyrgyz people. That’s why many of us want to stay here to live and work. Plus, students from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh bring good benefits to the local economy,» Sajjad Ahmed added.

Returning to the problems, the director of the hostel for foreign students added that he has been living in Kyrgyzstan for more than 20 years and has citizenship of Kyrgyzstan. According to him, he very rarely encounters rudeness from local residents, but recently there has been a sharp increase in aggression towards foreigners. In addition, after the riots on the night of May 18, the hostel was subject to various inspections from the tax service, fire service and other government agencies.

Sajjad ​​Ahmed hopes that all these troubles will be forgotten like a bad dream, and everything will return to normal soon. Students will return to Kyrgyzstan to continue their studies, foreigners and local residents will continue good neighborly relations, and they will walk the streets of Bishkek without fear for their lives.