JACKI LYDEN, host:
Kyrgyzstan is still sorting out the spasm of deadly ethnic violence that occurred there last month. NPR's David Greene is still trying to understand what happened to spark the violence in the first place.
DAVID GREENE: Whenever I head for a new place, I hire a local journalist to work with me, and no one's better than Jyldyz Bekbayeva in Kyrgyzstan. This is her helping me with an interview.
Ms. JYLDYZ BEKBAYEVA (Journalist): (Foreign language spoken)
GREENE: She speaks the local languages, she's devoted, willing to work any hour, go anywhere.
So, I didn't understand why, when I asked Jyldyz to take me to a village on the Uzbek border, she kept nervously saying no. She finally told me: Ethnically, she is Kyrgyz, and the village is Uzbek. She called people there. They said an American journalist could come, but a Kyrgyz woman wasn't welcome. They couldn't promise that she'd be safe.
Jyldyz is as unbiased a journalist as you can find. In peaceful times, she'd interviewed Uzbeks and produced documentaries about their communities. But in the ethnic conflict that swallowed southern Kyrgyzstan, what mattered was what she was in the eyes of others.
Jyldyz drove me within two miles of that village. A car was waiting. Two Uzbek men politely greeted Jyldyz, then they waved goodbye to her and drove me into this village, Suratash.
I expected to hear anger aimed at Kyrgyz people. After all, Kyrgyz mobs had burnt down Uzbek homes, sending people fleeing here. But I heard a different message captured in the voice of 16-year-old refugee Nargiza Anveryeva. This Uzbek girl had been on the phone with her Kyrgyz friends.
Ms. NARGIZA ANVERYEVA: They called me, they asked me what happened. We don't want for that it was here, yeah.
GREENE: Truth is, weeks after the ethnic riots, people are not as angry as they are confused. Two communities are avoiding each other, not out of hate - it's fear. If they don't know how the violence started, what suddenly inflamed select groups on both sides, it's hard to trust again.
They've been given so many theories about what took place. Maybe the former president wanted to shake the new government, so he hired mobs to spark ethnic clashes. Maybe Islamist militants were responsible. Maybe the government could have done more to control the bloodshed.
Last week, the president's office called offering an interview. I quickly packed up in the south and rushed for the capital. The flights were sold out, but I paid for space in the rear of a small plane, where they stow extra luggage, and I thankfully made it to meet President Roza Otunbayeva. Yet, she had no answers either, only promises that the government will do a full inquiry.
As a journalist covering a conflict, I'm supposed to offer more than stories of suffering. I'm supposed to get answers and the truth. In Kyrgyzstan, so far, that's been painfully impossible.
David Greene, NPR News.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.