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Kyrgyzstan: Treatment of Bashkirs and Tatars by nationalist groups and the general population and available protection (1999-2000)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 9 March 2000
Citation / Document Symbol KGT33864.E
Reference 2
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Kyrgyzstan: Treatment of Bashkirs and Tatars by nationalist groups and the general population and available protection (1999-2000), 9 March 2000, KGT33864.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6ad6374.html [accessed 16 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Information on the treatment of Bashkirs and Tatars by nationalist groups and the general population and the available protection is scarce among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

Sources provide various statistics on the size of the Tatar and Bashkir communities in Kyrgyzstan. According to 1998 data, the Tatar population in Kyrgyzstan ranges from 51,700 to 53,200, down from 70,100 in 1989 (UNHCHR 15 Jan. 1999; Institute for Regional Studies 1 Mar. 2000; Bureau on Human Rights and Rule of Law 6 Mar. 2000). The only figure found for the Bashkirs indicates that their community numbered 3,250 people in 1995 (Ethnologue 1996). However, the sources consulted usually refer not to the individual communities but to the Tatar and Bashkir community. The relations between these ethnic groups have been facilitated by the fact that they are very closed to each other culturally, linguistically and religiously speaking (Bureau on Human Rights and Rule of Law 6 Mar. 2000; Institute for Regional Studies 1  Mar. 2000). Most Tatars and Bashkirs live in Bishkek and Tokmak, although an article mentions the presence of more than 7,000 people belonging to the Tatar and Bashkir communities in the south-western city of Osh (Vecherny Bishkek 4 Nov. 1999; Institute for Regional Studies 1 Mar. 2000;). Several Bashkir and Tatar cultural associations are active within those communities such as Il'kyaem, Berdamlek, and Tugan Tel (Vecherny Bishkek 26 May 1999; ibid. 4 Nov. 1999; ibid. 3 Dec. 1999; Bureau on Human Rights and Rule of Law 6 Mar. 2000). The latter is based in the capital, Bishkek, and is said to be an active participant in Kyrgyzstan's social and cultural life (ibid.).

With respect to the treatment of Tatars and Bashkirs by nationalist groups, the Director of the Bishkek-based Bureau on Human Rights and Rule of Law stated that:

At present, there are no known nationalist groups active in Kyrgyzstan. Among political parties that are currently running for the parliament seats, there is a party of national renaissance, ASABA, but since early 90s, when some persons associated with this party committed some minor offences (mostly,

against owners of Chinese eateries), there are no reports from the public or mass media about any misconduct of this group towards minorities. I have no knowledge of any acts of violence committed exclusively and deliberately towards Tatars/Bashkirs (6 Mar. 2000).

This information was corroborated by the Director of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Kyrgyz Service in a 3 March 2000 telephone interview with the Research Directorate.

 The Director of the Institute for Regional Studies who has written extensively on interethnic relations in Kyrgyzstan and in other Central Asian states, and the Director of the RFE/RL Kyrgyz service both stated that they were unaware of any tensions between the Kyrgyz, and the Tatar and Bashkir minorities (1 Mar. 2000; 3 Mar. 2000). However, the Director of Bureau on Human Rights and Rule of Law indicated that isolated cases of crime based on racism had been reported, although they had not specifically targeted Tatars or Bashkirs (6 Mar. 2000). The Research Directorate was unable to obtain more details about these criminal acts within the time constraints of this Response.

None of the oral sources contacted was aware of any cases involving Bashkirs or Tatars being discriminated against (Institute for Regional Studies 1 Mar. 2000; Bureau on Human Rights and Rule of Law 6 Mar. 2000; Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Kyrgyz Service 3 Mar. 2000). However, the Director of the Bureau on Human Rights and Rule of Law claimed that:

There is mostly discrimination in limited employment opportunities when a person is seeking a position in government structures. But it depends mostly on the likes and dislikes of the top executives and is by no means supported by any state regulations. It is very difficult to document employment discrimination because the denial is usually worded as a lack of sufficient qualification.

We were able to register one case (in October 1999) - when a local

procurator in the city of Jalal-Abad was attempting to remove all minority leaders from the candidates' list during municipal elections and threatened to initiate a "national hatred instigation" case against all those who publiclysupported (a leader of the local Tatar centre among them) those minority candidates. But after substantial consultations, both with minority leaders and with his seniors, the procurator dismissed the threat.

And  in the new parliamentary elections (run-off is due on 12 March) there is a rather low proportion of minority candidates but, nevertheless, it is possible to run, and no discriminatory rules were established for registration. One Tatar candidate was registered in Asanbai constituency #4 in the city of Bishkek (the capital city of the country) (6 Mar. 2000).

The Director also addressed the question of state protection:

The only relevant detail is that almost 90 percent of the police is recruited from the Kyrgyz youth and this fact is sometimes interpreted as the potential threat to other ethnic groups.

Our experience of monitoring police brutality proves that the ethnic factor is irrelevant - everybody suffers mistreatment from the part of the police. We have torture cases registered, and victims are Russian, Uzbek, Kyrgyz, Tatar, etc (ibid.).

The success of legal claims in all those cases hugely depends on the early involvement of qualified and committed lawyers and human rights groups. The legal system is so far weak, the judiciary is far from being a real 'third power' but even under these circumstances we can achieve good results if the case is brought to our attention in the early stage and if the lawyers cooperate with us closely (ibid.).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

Bureau on Human Rights and Rule of Law, Bishkek. 6 March 2000. Correspondence from Director.

Ethnologue: Languages of the World. 1996. 13th ed.  [Accessed 1 Mar. 2000]

Institute of Regional Studies, Bishkek. 1 March 2000. Correspondence from Director.

Kyrgyz Service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Prague. 3 March 2000. Telephone interview with the Director.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR). 15 January 1999. Initial Report by the Kyrgyz Republic on its Implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination.

[Accessed 1 Mar. 2000]

Vecherny Bishkek. 3 December 1999. K. Serazitdinov. "Raznoglasiya pozadi. Yubiley sostoitsya." [Accessed 21 Feb. 2000]

-----. 4 November 1999. M. Khamidov. "V Oshe zvuchit tatarskaya rech."  [Accessed 21 Feb. 2000]

-----. 26 May 1999. E. Denisenko. "Shkoly raznye nuzhny." [Accessed 21 Feb. 2000]

Additional Sources Consulted

Amnesty International Report 1999

Human Rights Watch World Report 2000

IRB Databases

Nationalities Papers 1999

Public Affairs International Service 1999-2000

REFWORLD 1999

Resource Centre. "Kyrgyzstan" country file.

World News Connection (WNC)

Seven oral sources contacted.

Internet Sites including:

Amnesty International

Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst

Central Asia - Caucasus Institute, Johns Hopkins University

Central Asia Monitor On-line Supplement 1999

Centre for Research on Ethnic Relations (CRER)

Centre for Social Research

The Danish Immigration Service

Department of Foreign Affairs to President of Tatarstan Webpage

Embassy of the Kyrgyz Republic to the USA and Canada

European Center for Minority Issues (ECMI)

The Harvard Forum for Central Asian Studies

Human Rights Watch

International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights

Jamestown Foundation

The Kyrgyzstan Freenet

Kyrgyzstan Online

A Library of Congress Country Study-Kyrgyzstan

Local Government and Public Service Reform Initiative

Minority Electronic Resources (MINELRES)

Minority Rights Group International

The National Statistical Committee of the Kyrgyz Republic

Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)

Oxus Communications - CentralAsia (Mark Dickens)

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies

Soros Foundations Network Website.

SOTA Research Centre for Turkestan and Azerbaijan

Immigration and Nationality Directorate, U.K. Home Office

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

United Nations Development Programme, Kyrgyzstan

Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation

Voice of the shuttle: Minority Studies Page

The World-Wide Web Virtual Library - Interactive Central Asia Resource Project (ICARP)

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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