Healing Breath Flows
Through Kyrgyzstan

“International Association for Human Values (IAHV) gives hope to people, teaches us to live in spite of difficulties, and teaches us to forgive and enjoy every moment of our life given by the Creator! Our city returns to life after terrible shocks,” shares Erkin Nurmamatov with tears of gratitude, a year after Osh province in Southern Kyrgyzstan was rocked by a bout of ethnic violence in June 2010.

"Everything has become better.The program came at the right time.”

- Kanybay Saliev, Police Colonel, Assistant Chief of Police Department in Osh city.

In the aftermath of a week of inter-community violence, a cloud of insecurity darkened the minds of people and altered their way of life: people preferred to stay home during the evenings, parents did not allow their children to play in the neighborhood. These events also eroded cross-community trust as well as international relations of Kyrgyzstan: both Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan had closed their borders with Kyrgyzstan for an extended period.

The law-maintaining forces bore the brunt of this –the Police Department in Bishkek, the capital city of Kyrgyzstan, had to live with constant pressure and continually be in a state of combat readiness to keep the situation in the multi-ethnic city under control, the border troops and people working under the Department of Emergency Situations had to be on call - day and night.

Restoring Peace and Communal Harmony in Osh City

A dynamic team from International Association for Human Values, Russia: Rashit Rahimulin, Elena Stefanova, Ilshat Safin and Victor Odincov came together to work for peace in Kyrgyzstan.

"The techniques from the course help control emotionsand feelings, quickly mobilize,more effectively solve military problems, give deep relaxation, rest, calm nervous system and let us realize the nature of the mind. This helps to solve problems in the family and in the service not only in emergency situations, but also in peacetime.”

- Muktarbek Sydykov, Police Major, Deputy Commander of Police Department, Kyrgyzstan.

They organized Trauma Relief workshops over the period of a year to provide the much needed healing breath to rejuvenate assurance and rebuild trust. The journey started in June 2010 with Trauma Relief workshops in Bishkek, the capital city of Kyrgyzstan. More than 2500 people (a mix of Kirghiz, Uzbeks and Russian communities) including children, doctors, employees of the Department of Internal Affairs, anti-terrorist units, Special Forces and Border Guards benefitted. After the success of these workshops in Osh and Bishkek, they were also conducted for residents, school and university teachers, Department of Internal Affairs and Special Rapid Reaction Detachment forces in Jalal-abad and Chui district.

The Police Department in Bishkek, one of the first recipients of the workshops, spoke of the relief experienced, mental clarity and better ability to manage the situation. “We have had no normal rest and sleep for two months. Therefore, there is deep stress and sometimes nervous breakdowns. After the Trauma Relief workshop ‘Release from stress’, I feel more relaxed, calm, more self-control and irritability has decreased. I wake up rested. Psychological conditions have gradually stabilized. Everything has become better. The program came at the right time,” shared Kanybay Saliev, Assistant Chief of Police in Osh city.

Bringing Peace to the Peace-keepers

On similar lines, Zemfira Kutlubaeva, the Senior Officer of the Personnel of the Osh Border Unit said, “During ethnic war, woman-soldiers cooked and baked bread under fire. Now we have more self-confidence, life force, and good humor. Health has improved and we sleep better. We have found peace of mind.”

The Trauma Relief workshops also functioned as a common ground that brought people from different ethnic societies together to begin the step-by-step journey of rejuvenating mutual trust.

Yoga and Meditation Rekindles Love and Hope

A year later, the healing and re-emergence of human values is evident. The bonds of trust and belonging between people and communities are being rekindled.

Mamasadyk, a workshop participant, expressed “I would like to express gratitude from all course participants…in Osh city, Kyrgyzstan. The war is inhuman, ruthless and cruel. But at the same difficult time nobility, heroism and kindness has risen in people.”

The streets resound again with the joyful sounds of children laughing as they play, their innocence and sense of well-being restored.

* The IAHV is a sister organization of The Art of Living and is headquartered in Geneva.


Published in 2010.