State of the World's Minorities 2006 - Kyrgyzstan
|Publisher||Minority Rights Group International|
|Publication Date||22 December 2005|
|Cite as||Minority Rights Group International, State of the World's Minorities 2006 - Kyrgyzstan, 22 December 2005, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48abdd7457.html [accessed 22 May 2013]|
The situation for minorities in Kyrgyzstan has not improved significantly in the last five years. The country has experienced the departure of large numbers from minority groups, though perhaps to a lesser extent than many of its neighbours. Despite this, it can be described as the most tolerant and receptive towards minorities of the Central Asian states. It was the only country in the region to have retained Russian as an 'official' language (i.e. 'language of inter-ethnic communication'). Kyrgyz, until 2004, was the 'state language'.
The trend towards a 'Kyrgyzstan for the Kyrgyz' has picked up steam in 2004, however, through language legislation passed by the lower house of parliament on 12 February. This legislation seems to pave the way to further disadvantaging minorities such as the Uzbek-speaking minority (about 16 per cent of the population) and Russian-speaking minority (perhaps 11 per cent), especially since the new language provisions require that candidates for elected office need to demonstrate proficiency in Kyrgyz, as do students wishing to enter or graduate from university. State officials are to use primarily Kyrgyz, though Russian remains as a 'language of inter-ethnic communication'. The Uzbek minority, based in the restive southern parts of the country, in particular may experience this as a way of assuring the dominance of the Kyrgyz majority. The former's almost complete exclusion from administrative and political positions, despite their now constituting the largest minority in the country, has probably contributed to the strength of fundamentalist beliefs (often officially described as Wahhabist interpretations) among some Uzbeks, and to government crackdowns and suspicion against members of this minority. It is still unclear what the effects of the revolution in June 2005, which saw then President Askar Akayev deposed, will mean in terms of the treatment of minorities in Kyrgyzstan. Prior to his being deposed in 2005, many international organizations such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) had tended to view Akayev in quite positive terms, though concerns had been expressed as he seemed to be moving towards a more authoritarian regime in 2004–5.