Kyrgyzstan's Injured Underscore Reasons For Revolt

Although daily life is starting to return to normal after Wednesday's bloody uprising in Kyrgyzstan, many of the hundreds injured during the revolt are still fighting for survival in the country's under-resourced hospitals.

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LIANE HANSEN, host:

In the central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan, dozens of funerals are taking place this weekend. They're the results of last week's uprising, in which more than 80 anti-government protesters were killed in the capital of Bishkek.

NPR's David Greene is in Kyrgyzstan, and he reports that the casualties have overwhelmed hospitals in one of the poorest countries of the former Soviet Union.

DAVID GREENE: Many people in this country are still trying to understand what happened.

Mr. NURLAND MUKANBAYEV (Protester): We came here without weapon, without anything.

GREENE: That was 22-year-old Nurland Mukanbayev(ph). He could have been speaking for so many other people here who came for a peaceful protest and were met by gunfire.

(Soundbite of music)

GREENE: Music filled the hills outside the capital on Saturday. A mass funeral was held for some of the shooting victims. Several thousand people came to pray or share photos of lost loved ones.

(Soundbite of music)

GREENE: Many here believe Kyrgyzstan's President Kurmanbek Bakiyev ordered the killings outside his office. Bakiyev, who's fled the capital and lost control to a new interim government, claims supporters of the opposition were armed and charging at the government's headquarters.

And then there's the theory that Russia fed the flames. Always possessive of former Soviet space, Moscow has long wanted a friendly government in Kyrgyzstan that would consider closing down the U.S. military base here, although Russians deny they were involved.

(Soundbite of conversation)

GREENE: But if these events were somehow linked to evicting the Americans from Kyrgyzstan, it would be somewhat ironic: The U.S. military base here helped train doctors and gave millions of dollars to the hospitals to that are treating the victims of this revolution.

Eighty-three-year-old Dr. Mambet Mamakeyev(ph) is in charge of the National Surgical Hospital in the capital.

Dr. MAMBET MAMAKEYEV (Director, National Surgical Hospital): ( Speaking foreign language)

GREENE: I have been working as a surgeon for 58 years, he said, and I've never seen anything as terrible as this. Patients started pouring in from the square on Wednesday afternoon. Four were already dead, seven died in surgery, 70 more were in critical condition. This surgeon and his staff dealt with more than 1500 bullet wounds. Most, the doctor said, seemed to be from automatic weapon fire.

Dr. MAMAKEYEV: (Speaking foreign language)

GREENE: Whoever shot these patients are scum, the doctor said. They should be hung on the square. Let me do it. I know my profession is humane. But I will leave this humane job and hang such people with pleasure.

(Soundbite of conversations)

GREENE: In a ward full of patients was Asobi Sherenbyev(ph), who had a bullet hole in his left shoulder.

Mr. ASOBI SHERENBYEV: (Speaking foreign language)

GREENE: Sherenbyev is a professional athlete. He says he wasnt part of any opposition group.

Mr. SHERENBYEV: (Speaking foreign language)

GREENE: I was just driving by in my car, he said, and had to stop because the road was blocked. I wondered where all the people were going, what sort of slogan they were shouting, so I decided to go along.

Mr. SHERENBYEV: (Speaking foreign language)

GREENE: Im Muslim, he added. I went to stand with these people. I can afford more than the average citizen but I feel hurt for people who are in poverty.

Mr. SHERENBYEV: (Speaking foreign language)

GREENE: Maybe Sherenbyev wasnt much of an activist before, but being shot has brought out anger. Our state doesnt care about us, he said. Why would they kill their own sons?

David Greene, NPR News, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

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