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Crisis Looming Large: Kyrgyzstan and Georgia

Blogs Closing Civic Space Human Rights Defenders Intersectionality

Written by Lida Minasyan
Dalan Fund (formerly known as CEECCNA Collaborative Fund)

  • On March 14th, 2024, the “foreign representatives,” also known as the “foreign agents” bill passed its third and final reading in the Kyrgyz Parliament. President Sadyr Japarov signed this bill on April 2nd, 2024, and it went into effect immediately.

  • On March 25th, 2024, the Georgian ruling party introduced restrictive amendments to the Constitution that endanger LGBTQIA+ organizing, community, and their fundamental rights and freedoms. We are further alarmed by two other developments: the reintroduction of the “Foreign Agent Law” as of April 3rd, 2024, and the announcement by the ruling party to eliminate gender quotas in parliamentary election lists on April 1st, 2024.

At Dalan Fund (formerly known as CEECCNA Collaborative Fund), we unequivocally stand in solidarity with grassroots movements in  Georgia and Kyrgyzstan as these alarming developments fuel anti-democratic and anti-gender movements, pose an existential threat to civil societies, deepen the erosion of democracy, and limit access to rights for all.

What is happening in Kyrgyzstan

Before the final reading and final signature by the president, there were relentless efforts led by the local civil society with support from journalists, and international human rights and development organizations to oppose the adoption of the bill, which helped to remove provisions on criminal liability and imprisonment. However, the bill still contains discriminatory provisions that restrict freedom of association and impose disproportionate state control over the work of non-governmental organizations.

This legislation, similar to laws adopted in other countries in the CEECCNA regions such as Russia, Kazakhstan, and the attempt in Georgia in 2023, is accompanied by additional anti-democratic measures aimed at significantly restricting foreign funding and suppressing independent civil society and media. Given that the local civil society is already subjected to unprecedented pressure, the adoption of the bill is a further challenge for Kyrgyzstan’s civil society to be well-resourced, free, and vibrant.

What is happening in Georgia

After the failed attempt to adopt the “Foreign Agent Bill” last year, this time around, the ruling party of Georgia has proposed amendments to the Constitution aiming to restrict the rights and freedom of the LGBTQIA+ people. For example, these amendments aim to prohibit crucial medical support for gender transitioning and deny legal gender recognition for transgender individuals. The pursuit of constitutional amendments in this manner, as well as the other proposed legislative changes  contradict universal human rights principles, notably by violating the freedoms of expression and assembly.

The current initiative by the Georgian Government is a vivid example of democratic backsliding, and endorsing anti-gender movements represents a second attempt to stir political turmoil in the country by targeting systematically excluded groups. This attempt is widely perceived as a strategy to align with ultra-conservative sentiments and translate them into electoral support, especially considering that the national parliamentary elections in Georgia are scheduled for 2024.

How can we support

In light of these manifestations of authoritarian rhetoric in Kyrgyzstan and Georgia, we call upon our partners, networks, and allies to keep an eye on ongoing developments and to maintain a close watch on the pulse of local civil society and their strategies of resistance against imposed legislative changes.

At this point, both Kyrgyz and Georgian civil societies are in strategizing mode, hence we urge international communities to closely listen to the guidance coming from the movements, and take the best course of action identified by local actors.

We know that human rights crises of this kind will not be widely covered by mainstream media, yet, the effects will be felt deeply and will directly impact the lives of thousands of people. In both countries, movements are strategizing on crisis prevention and response approaches, and we encourage you to provide a platform for advocacy and resources based on the courses of action organizers propose.

At Dalan Fund, we are closely monitoring ongoing developments and will keep you informed of any contextual shifts. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.

In solidarity,
Dalan Fund

P.S. Name Change Note: After 15 months of seeding, the CEECCNA Collaborative Fund has a permanent name and its Dalan Fund. The name brings together multiple languages and cultural references from across Central and Eastern Europe, Caucasus, Central and North Asia Regions: “Dalan” in Armenian means an arch, a passageway; in Buryat language, it means a garden bed; in Mongolian, it signifies the edge of the mountain; and in Yakut language, it denotes free, spacious. A passageway, a gathering and resting space, an edge of what is possible, freedom, and spaciousness— these concepts encapsulate the core identity of the Dalan Fund and serve as our inspiration for its contribution to the intersectional movements across CEECCNA.

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