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Kyrgyzstan Country Report

A march was held on October 24 in Bishkek against the detention of activists and politicians who oppose the transfer of Kempir-Abad to Uzbekistan. [Original article]

Kyrgyzstan Country Report

November 2022

Since 2005, the Kyrgyz Republic (Kyrgyzstan) has undergone several changes in government as a result of popular mass protests: first the Tulip Revolution in 2005, then the Second Kyrgyz Revolution in 2010, and most recently the Third Kyrgyz Revolution in 2020.

The third revolution resulted in former political prisoner Sadyr Japarov being elected president and a new constitution. However, the new constitution has resulted in increased presidential power and weakening of Kyrgyzstan’s legislative body, known as the Supreme Council.

Women’s rights in Kyrgyzstan are severely curtailed. Domestic violence cases are largely underreported. The state lacks effective law enforcement and the political will to address gender-based violence. Despite its suppression during the Soviet Union, the Kyrgyz custom of bride kidnapping or ala kachu for forced marriages still occurs despite its official illegality. Women have few economic rights and opportunities for growth, especially in rural areas, forcing them to be financially dependent on abusive parents, husbands, and relatives by marriage.

In 2010, Kyrgyz mobs attacked ethnic Uzbeks in the cities of Osh and Jalalabad. Over 500 Uzbeks were killed, and around 250,000 displaced. Uzbeks continue to be persecuted, like prominent Uzbek activist Azimjon Askerov who was Kyrgyzstan's longest-serving political prisoner until his death in 2020, officially due to COVID-19 complications, a cause that human rights organizations and Askerov’s family dispute.

Peaceful protesters, activists, and journalists in Kyrgyzstan are frequently arrested on arbitrary criminal charges. In 2022, protesters were arrested for peacefully protesting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine outside the Russian embassy in Bishkek and for protesting Kyrgyzstan's border demarcation agreement with Uzbekistan. These protests were explicitly banned by state order. Violations are punishable by fines and possible prison sentences.

In May 2021 and September 2022, Kyrgyz forces clashed with their Tajik counterparts in a conflict over borders in the Fergana Valley, a fertile agricultural region shared by three nations. Each state blames the other for ceasefire violations, targeting of civilians, and military mobilization. Ethnic Tajiks in Kyrgyz enclaves fear discrimination and persecution.

Source: CIA, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Ethnic enclaves: Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan Source: Wikiwand

Hundreds of ethnic Uzbeks have formally changed their last names to Kyrgyz to evade discrimination. The Uzbek language has been repressed and denied official status at the public and government levels.

Gender-based violence against women indicates that Kyrgyzstan is at Stage 3: Discrimination. Police violence against protesters indicates that Kyrgyzstan at Stage 3: Discrimination and Stage 6: Polarization. Ethnic violence against Tajiks and Uzbeks indicates that Kyrgyzstan at Stage 3: Discrimination, Stage 6: Polarization, and Stage 8: Persecution.

Genocide Watch recommends:

  • The UN should monitor Kyrgyzstan's border crises and encourage Kyrgyzstan to establish a sustainable ceasefire with Tajikistan and an equitable border demarcation agreement with Uzbekistan.

  • The government of Kyrgyzstan should abide by Chapter 3, Articles 37 through 39 of its 2021 constitution which guarantees the right to freedom of peaceful assembly.

  • Kyrgyzstan should strengthen its commitment to international women’s rights treaties and legally address cultural impunity that tolerates domestic violence, with active monitoring by UN Women.

Kyrgyzstan Country Report
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