My View From the Revolution


I'm locked in my apartment two blocks from the main square of Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan -- and home to a U.S. airbase used for the war in Afghanistan -- and can hear groups of men still roaming the streets. Early Wednesday morning, protesters gathered outside the Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan's headquarters to rally against President Kurmanbek Bakiyev. By the evening, Bakiyev's government fell. Here's how a protest became an insurgency in just one day.

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Protesters denouncing Bakiyev for alleged human-rights abuses first took control of the city of Talas. Mayhem then came to Bishkek. After police began arresting a group of non-violent protesters in the capitol, hundreds more gathered in support of the demonstration. Police released riot dogs, used tear gas, and shot rubber bullets but still had to retreat under the force of the growing crowds.
Later, special forces and riot police were also overpowered. The crowds seized a bazooka, automatic rifles, riot shields, and two military transports. Rioters used a tractor and a large truck to break through the locked gates of the White House, where Bakiyev lives, disregarding signs that read, "If you enter you will be met with live ammunition."

Both the police and the crowd fired on each other, with both rubber and lead bullets. Trails of blood led from the White House to the hospital. A young man, not realizing he had been shot, reached down to the hole in his wrist. He raised his arm and blood poured onto the street. Inside the hospital, nurses rushed to find rooms for the wounded and doctors were overwhelmed. One man, reportedly hit by a sniper, lay unresponsive on the floor in a pool of blood.

Back on the streets, demonstrators turned on parliament and the intelligence headquarters, despite being fired on by armed guards and a tank. The intelligence headquarters was later set on fire, as opposition members were freed from its holding cells. Soon, the White House was occupied, as well.
Now, night has fallen in Bishkek and gunshots continue to echo through the streets. Militias have formed to protect businesses and neighborhoods, according to citizen reports, while 50,000 supporters of the deposed president are marching on Bishkek.

It's not clear who will be ruling Kyrgyzstan in the coming days. Right now, no one is.

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D. Dalton Bennett is based in Kyrgyzstan and is a contributor to

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