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Artistic expression for violence and extremism prevention

  • Country: Kyrgyzstan
  • Project Name: Artistic expression for violence and extremism prevention
  • Contact person: Libgart Yasmin Ottens, ottens@elbarlament.org
  • Project duration: March – October 2024
  • Project objective: Engaging youth in filmmaking promote trust and contribute to reconciliation, especially where groups of participants comprise young people from different ethnic backgrounds

Unlike its authoritarian neighbours – Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan – Kyrgyzstan has had a more pluralistic political system since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Kyrgyzstan’s ongoing journey from Soviet authoritarianism towards a more democratic and open society has however not been easy. Three authoritarian presidents have been ousted from office since 2005 due to popular protests. Following President Bakiyev’s removal in 2010, the tensions between the country’s ethnic Kyrgyz majority and Uzbek minority led to the outbreak of widespread violence in the regions of Osh and Jalal-Abad in southern Kyrgyzstan, where most of the Uzbek population is concentrated. In the summer of 2010, between 500 and 2,000 people lost their lives, 80,000 more were displaced, and over 2,500 buildings were razed to the ground. Since then the issue of violent extremism entered the national discourse. More than a decade on, this episode still looms large for communities living nearby, with many of the tensions that caused the violence left unresolved.

Over the past decades, polarised segments of society grew in Kyrgyzstan and young men and women have been noticed to become more radicalised. The polarising influences of hyper-ethnic nationalists and uneducated and often unaccredited religious leaders is particularly worrisome for women, whose status has become increasingly marginalised over the past decades.
Overall, Kyrgyzstan has been experiencing a permanent social and economic crisis over the past decades providing thorough ground for extremist groups. Close to the ’northern route’ of opioid traffickers, the state struggles with pervasive corruption and the threat of political instability and manipulation, ethnic conflict and jihadist militancy/foreign-imported religious ideologies – and the trend that the Islamic State (IS) and other extremist religious groups may pivot towards a web of more localised operational cells. In addition to ethnic conflicts, drug trade, a disaffected youth and active recruitment by extremist groups, regional instability in former Soviet Union countries and Afghanistan, the lack of education as well as regional power influence from Russia and China create major risks for violent extremism to flourish in Kyrgyzstan.

Against this backdrop, GIZ has launched the project “Prevention of violent extremism in Central Asia (PREVECA) to support Central Asian Countries” to support state and civil society actors in taking appropriate preventive measures and increase society’s resilience against violent extremism. In this framework, in Kyrgyzstan, PREVECA accompanies local crime prevention plans and supports communities in shaping municipal and district security and prevention policies. Within this project, elbarlament is offering  video making workshops for the youth, with the ultimate aim to have visual art be accepted as a medium to discuss youth problems.

The project is part of the GIZ programme ‘Preventing violent extremism in central Asia’, funded by the German Federal Foreign Office