Lyuli of Osh { 8 images } Created 7 Jul 2010

They are called beggars, thieves and the leeches of society. They are said to be extremely dangerous and not to be trusted. They are marginalized people living in marginalized countries. Distant relatives of the Roma living in Central and Eastern Europe, the Lyuli of Central Asia struggle for acceptance by society, recognition by the government and preservation of their own identity.

It is believed the Lyuli - also called Jughi or Multani - migrated in the mid 14th Century from Pakistan and settled in modern-day Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan, while others continued the march further west to build communities in Europe. When the Central Asian countries were republics of a larger Soviet empire, the Lyuli lived relatively good lives. Under the communist system the group of people, who sprang from a south Asian caste of musicians and singers, were employed and housed. But the sudden collapse of the Soviet Union and establishment of newly independent nations has hit the Lyuli harder than the majority indigenous populations and other minority groups. In the past 20 years unemployment in some Lyuli communities has jumped to 70 percent or more. Social services such as education and medical help and city services such as running water, sewage and garbage removal are rare. Preservation of a cultural heritage is becoming more difficult as Lyuli balance a historical identity within a quickly changing modern society.
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