OSH, Kyrgyzstan -- Inhabitants of Kyrgyzstan's Barak exclave in Uzbekistan are urging Kyrgyz authorities to relocate them to Kyrgyzstan proper, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.
Doolotbek Musabekov, chairman of the New Barak foundation, told RFE/RL that Barak residents sent a petition on May 11 to Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbaeva, Prime Minister Almazbek Atambaev, and the parliament urging them to show concern for the exclave's Kyrgyz population of 153 families and more than 1,000 people.
Musabekov said the petitioners have asked that they and their possessions be moved to the village of Ak-Tash in Kyrgyzstan's southern Osh region. If that is not feasible, they request that the Kyrgyz authorities "do everything to simplify the procedures for crossing the Kyrgyz-Uzbek borders."
Barak is surrounded by Uzbek territory and is 1.5 kilometers from the main Kyrgyz-Uzbek border.
The people in Barak say they have enormous difficulties crossing borders; when they leave their village they have to be checked because they are entering Uzbekistan, but then they immediately have to go through another border check to pass into Kyrgyzstan proper.
They add that Uzbek border guards unnecessarily restrict and harass their movements when they want to leave their exclave because they have Kyrgyz passports. They say Uzbek border guards often don't allow them go to Kyrgyzstan to see relatives or buy goods.
They cite the recent case of a Kyrgyz man in Barak who died but whose relatives living in Kyrgyzstan proper were not allowed to cross the Uzbek border and attend his funeral.
Many people in Barak also felt uneasy during last June's ethnic unrest in southern Kyrgyzstan, and fled their homes in fear of reprisals against them because of what was happening to Uzbeks in the nearby Osh region.
Kyrgyz officials fear, however, that if the people leave Barak then Kyrgyzstan will not be able to keep its exclave.