Born out of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the young and fragile Kyrgyz republic is undermined by poverty, corruption and chronic political instability. Freedom of expression is minimal and more than 40% of the population live below the poverty line. This explosive mixture is what pushed the country towards its recent bloody events.
In last April the President Bakiev was overthrown after his Special Forces killed 86 demonstrators protesting outside his palace in Bishkek. This event catapulted the country into another wave of violence and 2 months later, in the city of Osh, clashes between the two main ethnic groups resulted in an anti-Uzbek pogrom during which, observers say, up to 2,000 people -mostly Uzbeks- were killed and more than 400,000 people were displaced, unable to return to their homes.
From 2007 until 2010, I have travelled over six times through Kyrgyzstan and have been examining the background of how such a country could fall so fast in such violence.
And yet, in March 2005, the “Tulips Revolution” of March 2005 brought hope and a promise of democracy to Kyrgyzstan when the Kyrgyz people overthrew the authoritarian regime of President Askar Akayev and elected in his place Kurmanbek Bakiyev. The international community broadly welcomed this uprising, seeing it as a major step towards democracy. But in a few years time, hope was fading.
Faded Tulips is a social portrait of Kyrgyzstan 20 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union.