Kyrgyzstan marks on Saturday the 10th anniversary since a police crackdown on anti-government demonstrators in the southern Aksy district, in line with a decree signed by President Almazbek Atambayev.
On March 17, 2002, Kyrgyz security forces opened fire at an anti-government demonstration in the Aksy village of Bospiyek, killing six protesters. Another demonstrator died later after a long hunger strike in the capital of Bishkek.
The tragedy led to the downfall of the country's Prime Minister Kurmanbek Bakiev and forced the government to make concessions to the opposition. It also undermined the authority of President Askar Akayev who was eventually ousted in the 2005 Tulip Revolution.
As popular revolts continue to shake up authoritarian regimes in the Middle East, Kyrgyz authorities moved to remind the nation that they were ready to meet people’s aspirations for greater freedom and democracy.
“The Aksy events were a turning point in the development of Kyrgyzstan,” Atambayev said in a statement. “They contributed to the revitalization of progressive political forces and civil society and helped involve broad popular masses into a struggle for democratic changes in the country.”
In line with Atambayev’s decree, the country will observe a moment of silence at noon on Saturday. Public entertainment was curtailed as a mark of respect.
Atambayev is expected to attend a commemoration ceremony in Bospiyek.