BISHKEK. The first anniversary of the Aksy events today was marked in Bishkek and some other regions of Kyrgyzstan. The issue of Aksy killings when police shot dead five peaceful protesters during their anti-government demonstration on March 17-18, 2003, divided the country and led to the most restive year Kyrgyzstan has yet seen.
At the beginning, about 100 people gathered today in the old central square, in front of the parliament building, to read verses from the Koran and remember those who died last year. Then they moved towards Gorkiy Square in Bishkek, where they organized a small meeting. The Kyrgyz Ombudsman Tursunbai Bakir-Uulu, several lawmakers and opposition leaders participated at the meeting. Observers say that there were some obstacles for public to be gathered. Fir instance, as they put it, invitation of children's choir and road repairing transportation to the old square were the methods of spoiling the event.
Other ceremonies were being held in the south of the country, nearer to where it all happened, including in the village of Bospiek in the Aksy district of the Jalalabad region. The meeting participants held signs and one of them says: "Those officials who were responsible for shootings have to be brought to justice". The leader of the opposition "Asaba" Party, lawmaker Azimbek Beknazarov chaired the meeting which adopted an appeal demanding to punish the officials who allegedly ordered police to severe punish the protesters, and to stop persecution of independent mass media. The appeal says that there is a necessity to appeal to an international justice institutions over the Aksy event in the current circumstances.
The head of the Aksy district administration, Abdumalik Egemberdiev told RFE/RL yesterday that the only wish for the both sides is peace and unity. However, no official representative was attended at today's meeting in Aksy. RFE/RL correspondents reported today that there were organized commemoration meetings in Karakulja district of the Osh region, and also in the regional centers of the Naryn, Talas and Ysykkoel regions.
The Legislative Assembly (lower chamber) of the Kyrgyz parliament started its today's session with one minute silence to honor those five protesters killed during the Aksy events.