2011.11.20: November 20, 2011: Kazakhstan Peace Corps Volunteer "Alex in Kazakhstan" writes: Are we supposed to believe that four unrelated attacks in different parts of the country are reason to pull out every volunteer and close Peace Corps?

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Kazakstan : Peace Corps Kazakhstan : Peace Corps Kazakstan: Newest Stories: 2011.11.18: November 18, 2011: Peace Corps to quit Kazakhstan : 2011.11.20: November 20, 2011: Kazakhstan Peace Corps Volunteer "Alex in Kazakhstan" writes: Are we supposed to believe that four unrelated attacks in different parts of the country are reason to pull out every volunteer and close Peace Corps?

By Admin1 (admin) (70.254.224.177) on Sunday, November 20, 2011 - 10:55 am: Edit Post

Kazakhstan Peace Corps Volunteer "Alex in Kazakhstan" writes: Are we supposed to believe that four unrelated attacks in different parts of the country are reason to pull out every volunteer and close Peace Corps?

Kazakhstan Peace Corps Volunteer Alex in Kazakhstan writes: Are we supposed to believe that four unrelated attacks in different parts of the country are reason to pull out every volunteer and close Peace Corps?

With so much attention, debate, and chatter occurring, I felt it necessary to make a statement: firstly, I don't want to leave, we don't want to leave, our students don't want us to leave, our schools and orgs don't want us to leave, our friends and families don't want us to leave. We are not quitting, we are being forced to leave involuntarily and against our will. Secondly, I want to address these "safety issues". It's a fact: Kazakhstan has the highest sexual assault/rape level among Peace countries worldwide. I don't dispute that and this isn't something to gloss over. However this isn't enough to close an 18-year-old program that has served an immeasurable amount of people. I am disputing the claims about the "ongoing safety concerns, and here's the main reason why: during the 2010 Kyrgyzstani riots in the Kyrgyz Republic (Kazakhstan's southern neighbor) there was genocide occurring in southern Kyrgyzstan. Genocide. And yet Peace Corps has remained in Kyrgyzstan.

Kazakhstan Peace Corps Volunteer "Alex in Kazakhstan" writes: Are we supposed to believe that four unrelated attacks in different parts of the country are reason to pull out every volunteer and close Peace Corps?

Safety of Volunteers & Peace Corps' withdrawal from Kazakhstan

November 20th, 2011

Caption: Kazakhstani Committee for National Security personnel train in Almaty's suburbs in August. Kazakhstan is increasing the anti-terrorism readiness of its special forces. [Courtesy of the Committee for National Security]

Peace Corps Kazakhstan Headquarters asked volunteers to: "Please refrain from sharing information about the Volunteer departure with the media or posting information on Facebook or other social media sites until all volunteers have safely arrived at the conference location."

With so much attention, debate, and chatter occurring, I felt it necessary to make a statement: firstly, I don't want to leave, we don't want to leave, our students don't want us to leave, our schools and orgs don't want us to leave, our friends and families don't want us to leave. We are not quitting, we are being forced to leave involuntarily and against our will. Secondly, I want to address these "safety issues". It's a fact: Kazakhstan has the highest sexual assault/rape level among Peace countries worldwide. I don't dispute that and this isn't something to gloss over. However this isn't enough to close an 18-year-old program that has served an immeasurable amount of people.

I am disputing the claims about the "ongoing safety concerns, and here's the main reason why: during the 2010 Kyrgyzstani riots in the Kyrgyz Republic (Kazakhstan's southern neighbor) there was genocide occurring in southern Kyrgyzstan. Genocide. And yet Peace Corps has remained in Kyrgyzstan. Here are two comments from PCVs in Kyrgyzstan who served during that time:

"I was a PCV in Osh of Kyrgyzstan during the ethnic clashes and riots and it seemed that they were never even considering closing the program because safety concerns. It's interesting to me how fast [Peace Corps' withdrawal from Kazakhstan] was resolved." (Source)

"The genocide in southern Kyrgyzstan was Kyrgyz killing Uzbeks. It was isolated to the south though. We were getting consolidated (stage #3 of Peace Corps' five-stage emergency system) almost every two months and I was on standfast (stage #2) most of my service due to all the political and ethnic issues in the country."

Are we supposed to believe that four unrelated attacks in different parts of the country are reason to pull out every volunteer and close Peace Corps? The four attacks are as follows: in May a suicide bomber in Aktobe, in June a vehicle explosion in Astana, in October bombings in Atyrau, and most recently in November attacks in Taraz resulting in eight deaths, for a grand total of 12 people most of which were the suicide bombers themselves. To put this in geographic perspective, that would be four unrelated attacks in Denver, Albuquerque, New Orleans, and St. Louis. Troubling and concerning, but this doesn't compare to Kyrgyzstan, where volunteers were shot at and had their buildings burned. What does this say to me?

Influential members of the Kazakhstani government A)find Peace Corps' programs and volunteer's work irrelevant and unnecessary due to level of development that can be found B)don't trust us, dislike us, and want us gone or C) both.

Take note Moms & Worryworts: we volunteers are safe, we are accounted for, our security is not under threat. We will be home soon without incident, and until then you couldn't ask for more hospitable, kind, loving, generous, truly wonderful people to be getting your loved ones there.

Since being told of our abrupt suspension and withdrawal, I wanted to write on this blog about what's going on from the perspective of someone living over here. However, my amazing friend Becca wrote "A Eulogy to Peace Corps Kazakhstan" and this will be this most in-depth, accurate article you will find about the current conditions in Kazakhstan and Peace Corps.




Links to Related Topics (Tags):

Headlines: November, 2011; Peace Corps Kazakhstan; Directory of Kazakhstan RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Kazakhstan RPCVs; Safety and Security of Volunteers; Sexual Assault and Harassment; Blogs - Kazakhstan; Evacuation





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Story Source: Personal Web Site

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Kazakhstan; Safety; SA; Blogs - Kazakhstan; Evacuation

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