UN Calls for Civic Dialogue on Women’s Rights in the Kyrgyz Republic
12 March 2020
In his Independence Speech on 31 August 2019 on Ala Too square, President Sooronbai Jeenbekov Sharipovich stated that Kyrgyzstan faces the need to deal not only with national issues, but also to confront global challenges. He said the country’s objective is to live in a modern society and a prosperous state powered by human potential and freedom. He called for building a country, where everyone could live comfortably and where freedom is a source of development.
During his last visits to the EU and the UN General Assembly, the President stated it is not easy to build a genuine democracy, but noted that it is the only path the people of Kyrgyzstan have chosen and that Kyrgyzstan would continuously reinforce democratic principles in developing the country, with the state governance focusing on the needs of every person, provision of rights, freedoms, and equality in the society.
The Kyrgyz Republic is planning to submit the Voluntary National Report (VNR) in July 2020 on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. The core element of the case being made for the VNR is about democracy consolidation, the work of the institutions of the state towards implementing the SDGs to ensure the fullest realization of rights and opportunities for the citizens. The core element of the SDGs is ‘Leave No One Behind’ (LNOB) which requires inclusion, participation and voice for all segments of society in their national affairs.
The UN is therefore extremely concerned at recent trends which seek to undermine the promise of the SDGs, of voice and participation for women, and to constrain the space for civic action in the Kyrgyz Republic. This has manifested in increasing cases of domestic violence, intolerance, hatred and violence against women’s groups, activists and civic organizations. The culmination of this were the actions of masked men in targeting peaceful demonstrators on 8 March this year in the full presence of security agencies. Instead of arresting the masked men, the law enforcement representatives went ahead to arrest the marchers.
It is not only the obligation of the state to offer protection from violence and from threats of violence to all citizens. When the state agencies fail to act against the perpetrators of intimidation and violence, they create the unintended impression in the minds of the public that those masked men and all those perpetuating hate and intolerance have the support of the state. The UN does not believe that this is the case. That’s why it is absolutely important for state institutions to do their work judiciously to ensure that every citizen feels protected irrespective of their status in society.
Whatever issues divide and polarize any society they can only be resolved through debate and dialogue, not through violence. The UN encourages the Parliament and the Government to create the space for meaningful dialogue between citizens and state institutions, and among the society in the Kyrgyz Republic. The women’s activists and any groups opposed to them each has a right to be heard. But they should be heard in situations free from violence, hatred or intolerance. It is only through such dialogue that a real Kyrgyzstani citizenship will emerge, a society that respects and appreciates the diversity of its constituent parts. We call on the MPs and the Government to demonstrate leadership that enables the space for dialogues to be created. The UN stands ready to support such dialogues.