Human Rights Movement: Bir Duino-Kyrgyzstan

Human Rights Movement: Bir Duino-Kyrgyzstan

Бир Дуйно Кыргызстан
Bishkek

Bir Duino provides legal representation to indigent people facing criminal prosecution, advocates for the victims of human rights violations, campaigns for legal reforms that promote human rights, supports women’s leadership in government and civil society, and conducts research and publishes papers on human rights issues in Kyrgyzstan.

Partner Focus Areas

Early motherhood and maternal mortality
Youth education
Citizens' right to participate in political and public affairs
Political space for CSOs and human rights defenders

Partnership Highlights

WLP Partner since 2003
Central Asia regional collaboration
TV/radio-based leadership trainings
Presenting WLP documentaries at human rights film festivals
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Women-with-manutals-NTOT-Kyrgyzstan
Participants in a Training of Trainers workshop in Kyrgyzstan, hosted by WLP’s partner Bir Duino, hold up their translated and adapted copies of WLP’s Leading to Choices.

About Bir Duino

Founded in 2000, Bir Duino aims to decrease corruption, poverty, and injustice, and to improve the human rights situation in Kyrgyzstan. Bir Duino monitors and reports on the human rights laid out in the Constitution of the Kyrgyz Republic, and increases civic participation among youth and marginalized groups. Through education and training, Bir Duino mobilizes local NGOs and activists to campaign for human rights reforms. Bir Duino focuses its legal advocacy on protecting vulnerable groups, including those who are in custodial institutions, whose rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of expression were violated, or who were victims of sexual violence. Bir Duino actively supports women candidates for political office and promotes policies that address gender parity and women’s rights.

Since Bir Duino joined the WLP partnership in 2003, Bir Duino has integrated WLP’s leadership and human rights curricula and documentaries into its training programs. Bir Duino has hosted national and regional leadership and capacity-building Training of Trainers Institutes that have expanded the reach of WLP’s leadership methodology. Bir Duino works primarily in Kyrgyz and Russian.

(Human Rights Movement: Bir Duino-Kyrgyzstan is the successor CSO to Citizens against Corruption(CAC), which was founded in May 2000. CAC was the successor CSO to the Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society, which   was founded in December 1998.)

Kyrgyzstan NTOT 2017
Participants discuss human rights issues in a Bir Duino training of trainers workshop in Kyrgyzstan.

Recent Accomplishments

  • Bir Duino successfully advocated for the passage of a law protecting girls against early marriage. The law adopted by the Kyrgyz Parliament in 2017 stipulates that marriage with a minor is a criminal offense and extends criminal punishment of 3 to 5 years in prison to both clergy and parents who participate in the religious marriage ceremony. With the passage of the legislation, Bir Duino now is working to ensure its effective implementation.
  • In 2017, in response to human rights violations in Kyrgyzstan, Bir Duino organized a “Freedom and Solidarity Forum” at the Ata-Beyit (“Grave of Our Fathers”) memorial complex in the village of Chong-Tash. Over 100 people attended the event, including relatives of victims, human rights advocates, and grassroots activists, and journalists. Bir Duino used the event to collect signatures in support of a civil rights charter for Kyrgyzstan. 
  • Bir Duino conducted a successful advocacy campaign to halt the adoption of a bill on “On Foreign Agents,” that would have restricted the right to free assembly by Kyrgyz citizens. Critical to that campaign was information Bir Duino disseminated on radio and television to all seven regions of Kyrgyzstan.
  • Bir Duino developed radio trainings based on WLP’s Leading to Choices manual, which aired throughout Kyrgyzstan. Women and men participated by telephone in live broadcast training sessions. The on-air training addressed gender roles in Kyrgyz society and the expansion of women's equal participation in social interaction and decision-making.
  • In 2016, 539 people received legal assistance from Bir Duino of whom nearly 40 were victims of human rights violations.
  • As a result of WLP-based trainings conducted by Bir Duino in 2012, 13 female participants from four regions were elected as delegates in local parliaments.
  • Bir Duino's project called “Civic journalism,” which was initiated to highlight and counteract the decreasing civic space for NGOs and media, received the “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” Human Rights Prize of the French Republic in 2009.
Kyrgyzstan Tolekan July 2017
Tolekan Ismailova, director of Bir Duino, speaks at a conference on human rights in Kyrgyzstan.

Organizational Programs and Activities

Elections and Human Rights

  • To promote election transparency and fairness, Bir Duino monitors local and national elections for adherence to democratic protocols. Women activists who have participated in WLP's Leading to Choices leadership program have served as monitors.
  • Bir Duino advocates for women candidates who run for local and national offices, and submits policy recommendations to political parties for advancing women economically, socially, and politically. 
  • Bir Duino provides legal counseling to victims of human rights abuses, and lobbies government officials to pass human rights legislation, particularly relating to women’s rights, torture, and the death penalty.

International Human Rights Documentaries Film Festival

  • Each year, Bir Duino-Kyrgyzstan hosts an annual international human rights documentary film festival featuring local and international documentaries portraying the rights of women, children, and disabled people and the relationship between citizens and their government. Over 8,000 participants attend the film festival each year. Many attendees request the documentaries be shown in villages throughout Kyrgyzstan to increase awareness of human trafficking, domestic violence, and other human rights issues.
Young-Volunteer-to-Speak-Kyrgystan
A young woman volunteers to speak at a 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence campaign event in Kyrgyzstan.

Direct Assistance and Legal Services 

  • Bir Duino provides legal services and lawyers' assistance to victims of violence and torture, and others facing prosecution for crimes. Its clients include women and children, and human rights defenders.

Supporting Kyrgyz Women Leaders 

  • Bir Duino builds coalitions to unite women leaders and bolster their position and visibility in the public sphere. Together they identify barriers to expanding women’s leadership and seek ways to overcome those barriers.  
  • Bir Duino conducts leadership trainings for university students and youth in Bishkek to promote young women’s leadership.
Keeping silent and staying inside results in a closed, isolated society . . . We must continue [to speak out] because if we lose one hour, if we lose one day, this means we lose one month, one year [of our freedom].

,Director General, WLP Kyrgyzstan/Bir Duino

About Kyrgyzstan

  • Population: 6 million
  • Located in Central Asia, bordering Kazakhstan to the north, China to the east, Tajikistan to the south, and Uzbekistan to the west 
  • Kyrgyzstan's recorded history spans over 2,000 years, encompassing a variety of cultures and empires. Although geographically isolated by its highly mountainous terrain, which has helped preserve its ancient culture, Kyrgyzstan has been at the crossroads of several great civilizations as part of the Silk Road and other commercial and cultural routes.
  • Because of the demands of the nomadic economy, women traditionally worked as equals with men. In the ordinary family, women have enjoyed approximately equal status with their husbands, and in modern times, women have played more prominent roles in Kyrgyzstan than elsewhere in Central Asia.
  • Civil law system, which includes features of French civil law and Russian Federation laws.
  • Religions: Muslim 75%, Russian Orthodox 20%, other 5%
  • Citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Kyrgyzstan.
  • Seats held by women in national parliament: 19%
  • Labor force 40% female
  • Female literacy: 99.4%
Kyrgyzstan Press Conference for 16 days
Members of Bir Duino hold a press conference for the 16 Days of Activism to End Gender Based Violence campaign.
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