Tolekan Ismailova – Kyrgyzstan

She is one of the 1000 women proposed fort the Nobel Peace Price 2005.

She says: “Only in an honest, truly sincere society can free people live. These people are to build a new life. They will unite together in common labor, oriented toward creation of their bright future.”

Tolekan Ismailova – Kyrgyzsta

She works for the Civil Society Against Corruption. And she is the Executive Secretary of the Kyrghizstan NGOs Forum.

She is a public activist since 1977. Tolekan Ismailova carries out her activities at three levels: grassroots, national, and international. She works with local communities, NGOs, and political parties and cooperates with international organizations, such as the United Nations and Human Rights Watch. As the executive president of the NGO Civil Society Against Corruption, she is a leader of the democratic movement in Kyrgyzstan. She is involved in the field of social justice and human rights protection.

She writes: “The Prospects for Democracy in the Kyrgyz Republic: Assessing the Impact of 9/11”, Summary of Remarks by Tolekan Ismailova, November 21, 2002.

On November 21, Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow Tolekan Ismailova gave a public presentation at the National Endowment for Democracy on the complex prospects for democracy in Kyrgyzstan since its independence in 1991, paying particular attention to the impact of the events of September 11, 2001. The decision of Kyrgyz president Askar Akaev to join the U.S.-led campaign against terror brought with it opportunities for democratic gains, but it also posed grave risks, as the assurance of U.S. support could embolden the Kyrgyz government to renege on promises of democratic reform and renew its campaign of repression in the name of anti-terrorism. In her presentation, Ms. Ismailova analyzed how her country might seize the moment to realize its democratic potential and how the international community could help promote democracy there.

Independence from the former Soviet Union brought unprecedented change to the Kyrgyz Republic. The country’s first president, Askar Akaev, and his clan-based government introduced radical reforms aimed at economic liberalization, capitalizing on their people’s lack of knowledge concerning democracy. Shock therapy gave rise to a small powerful elite, on the one hand, and to unemployment and poverty for the masses on the other. Throughout the 1990s, and continuing to this day, the Kyrgyz state has denied civilians and civil society organizations their right to freedom of expression and association, arresting journalists, silencing opposition groups, and rigging parliamentary and presidential elections. As a result, Ms. Ismailova described Kyrgyzstan as a classic example of an authoritarian state.

Terrorism and geopolitics have thrust the country back into the international spotlight. Since the attacks of September 11, due to its location, the Kyrgyz Republic has become the object of international attention in the global war against terror. It is still unclear, however, if the support of the United States and its allies will bring long-awaited improvements to the lives of ordinary Kyrgyz citizens, or whether the international community, led by the U.S., would pursue its own strategic interests and turn a blind eye to the political and social problems perpetuated by the Akaev regime. With the Kyrgyz Republic receiving foreign aid once again, human rights groups within the country are concerned that the war against terrorism will give their government an excuse to turn its back on much-needed human rights reforms. For example, when the arrest of Deputy Beknazarov, who openly criticized the current leadership, triggered mass protests and hunger strikes, the government actually shot peaceful civilians.

Against this backdrop, President Akaev has also suggested ideas for constitutional reform and has announced that he will not run for president in the 2005 elections. In this period of transition, Ms. Ismailova noted that Kyrgyz citizens are calling for free and fair elections, an independent judicial system, a stable, legitimate rule of law, and the protection of basic human rights and freedoms. She felt that it was incumbent on her country to embrace more democratic measures in order to strengthen civil society—the so-called “third sector” that is able to lobby, resolve disputes through negotiation, educate future leaders, and allow civic activists to play a greater role in the development of a modern society. In conclusion, Ms. Ismailova noted that international organizations are essential to the strengthening of democratic institutions in her country. In particular, international organizations need to support local civic activists in their attempt to develop good governance programs. International organizations need a new, unified approach to dealing with regimes that are ignoring their commitments to democratize their societies and maintain human rights. The citizens of Kyrgyzstan are working for change, Ms. Ismailova concluded, but they need substantial international support to advocate for policy reform, good governance, and other vehicles of democratization.

Press-release: Additional meeting of OSCE on human rights issues in “Preventing tortures” took place in Vienna, Austria on November 6-7, 2003. Many speakers and participants pointed out the existence of tortures in OSCE region. All participants accused the continuing tortures in OSCE region, especially; countries such as Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Uzbekistan, Russian Federation and Kyrgyzstan were harshly criticized.

Kyrgyz Committee for Human Rights – chairman Ramazan Dyryldaev, member of administration of KCHR Albert Korgoldoev, leader of “Civil Society Against Corruption” Tolekan Ismailova, leader of “Kylym Shamy” NGO Aziza Abdrasulova, Valentina Gritsenko, human rights NGO “Justice” and three other representatives of pro-government Associations of NGOs presented Kyrgyz independent NGOs. International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (Vienna) and Kyrgyz Committee for Human Rights (Dyrydlaev R.) distributed special report on systematic tortures in Kyrgyzstan. In report KCHR gives large number of torture facts, including victims of Aksy tragedy. (Read more on

Tolekan Ismailova is the Executive Secretary of the Kyrghizstan NGOs Forum, an organization that aims to strengthen NGOs through training, consultations, information and communication services. It is also lobbying for the passage of an alternative NGO law that will make the environment more conducive to civil society organizations. Recently, it initiated a human rights campaign to protest against judicial investigations of progressive-minded citizens. The NGO Forum is also involved in increasing women’s participation in governance. Tolekan describes their work as “…helping women protect their rights. We try to involve them in activities which demand civic initiatives, in different conferences where they can get new knowledge, new understanding of the system we are building in our country. We also provide training for women in rural areas on different subjects including lobbying.”


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