At the time of coronavirus the rallies of spring 2020 are among the most discussable subjects. In 2020 March started with the rallies of supporters of the ex-deputy Sadyr Zhaparov. Moreover, yesterday the peaceful march was over with the leading detentions before the march was even started.

The coalition against torture decided to analyze those events and provide its own view on this case.

On March 2 of this year, a rally of supporters of ex-deputy Sadyr Zhaparov was held on the central square of Ala-Too. In conclusion, the action grew by throwing stones at law enforcement officers, riots and detentions. At the rally, the elder brother of Sadyr Zhaparov- Sabyr Zhaparov, urged the audience to disperse peacefully. However, some of his supporters ignored the appeal. From open sources, it is reported that among the organizers of the rally were members of the NGO “Kyrk Uruu Kyrgyz: Zhety Duban Yntymagy”, who actively convened people for the rally. Some publications report that they did not agree with the appeal of Sabyr Zhaparov to disperse and directed people towards the White House.

 On March 8, the march in support of women, having not yet begun, was completed. The march was organized by Bishkek feminists. It was supposed to begin at 12:00 at the Eternal Flame in Victory Square. But the women were not allowed to realize their plans, because provocations and detentions by law enforcement agencies began. Before the start of the action, unknown guys dispersed the participants, broke banners. Then the police detained the participants in the march.

Recently, we have been observing that in the country stable associations of groups have emerged which are struggling with one or another social “vice”. Most organizations establish themselves as “voluntary assistants” of the state. At the same time, there are movements expressly declaring that they assume the functions of the police, which they, in their opinion, cannot cope with. In other words, they believe that official justice is ineffective, as a result of which they unite in order to confront on their own. Such groups or individuals are called vigilantes.

In our observation, we identified several criteria that apply to social groups and evaluate their vigilant profile. These criteria can also be specified to the extent to which our monitoring will develop.

So, we will consider vigilant as an organization that has the following features:

 – This is a group of citizens united by the general idea of fighting a certain “vice”;

 – The group has developed a stable practice, most often these are regular raids;

 – The group uses force or control powers, not important, assigned or delegated;

 – The group is aimed at solving police or quasi-police tasks;

 – The group practices direct contact with citizens and the application of “powers” in relation to citizens: making demands, imposing bans, prescriptions, forcing citizens to obey.

For example, you can take the Kyrk Choro movement, whose representatives often carry out unauthorized raids on enterprises where foreigners work, entertainment venues, karaoke clubs and saunas. “Activists” explain their actions by the fact that they are aimed at exposing the girls, under the guise of visitors to institutions that provide intimate services to foreigners. Activists detain and transfer police to illegal migrants and women who provide sex services, and they post videos of the raid on the Internet. Members of the organization are also making efforts to reduct the number of “undesirable elements” whose lifestyle, according to activists, is not consistent with the norms of behavior accepted in society.

Representatives of “Kyrk Choro” explain their actions by the desire to preserve the honor and dignity of the people of Kyrgyzstan.

Let’s try to figure out who the vigilants are and why it is important to call everything by their proper names?

It is not allowed to take on tasks assigned to the “exclusive competence” of law enforcement agencies, to maintain order in the face of a known threat to life and health.

Therefore, it is wrong to call vigilants simply activists. It is important to name everything by its proper name and classify it correctly.

The first, philistine, reaction of the citizens to the actions of the vigilants is most often positive, in the spirit: “Well done, guys, let them put things in order, since the police can’t cope.” However, this natural expectation is often not justified. A closer look at the vigilant practice reveals various motives for activism: from “citizens who took the rule of law in their hands” to “hooligans who found a relatively legitimate way of violence for the purpose of asserting themselves.”

Any independent social activity should have long been suspicious of the authorities. Vigilant initiatives would hardly last long if they had not received their acacceptance.

What are the vigilantes fighting in Kyrgyzstan against?

It is observed that the activity of Kyrgyz vigilantes is concentrated around several major social vices: the LGBT community, prostitution, non-governmental organizations, the illegal sale of alcohol, and the struggle for morality. Most of the vigilant groups in dealing with citizens violate the law in one way or another, because activists are guided not only and not so much by them, but by their specific understanding of justice.

If you remember from May 21 to May 23, 2019 in the ethnic complex “Supara”, the Coalition against Torture in Kyrgyzstan was attacked by unknown people at that time. 9 people with video cameras and voice recorders burst into the conference room where the working meeting was held and in an aggressive form demanded to stop work, considering it to be interference in the internal affairs of Kyrgyzstan. These persons introduced themselves as members of the Youth Patriotic Movement of Kyrgyzstan, expressed the opinion that Western countries and the international organizations funded by them want to artificially shake the world in Kyrgyzstan.

Later we saw that the same persons: Tolmachev Alexander and representatives of the Anti-Terror movements were seen in conducting provocations and disrupting other similar events. We observed that some representatives of the movements: “Kyrk Choro”, “Anti-terror”, “Naryn Zhashtar Ordosu”, “Kyrk Uruu Kyrgyz: Jeti Duban Yntymagy” were to some extent seen at events such as: March 2 rally, March 8 March 24, 2019 – the breakdown of the round table to discuss the reform of the State Committee for National Security, January 31, 2020 – a round table to discuss the draft Law on Non-Profit Organizations.

It was then that we first stated and identified the activity of these vigilant groups as actions in a non-legal field and testifying to the appropriation of the control and judicial functions of the state.

“On May 23, unknown 9 people, with video cameras and voice recorders, burst into the conference room where the working meeting was held and in an aggressive form demanded to stop work”

“Anti-terror movement members tried twice to disrupt the activities of human rights defenders”

If in the current situation of intimidation, attacks, as well as provocations go unpunished, this will be a signal that citizens can be attacked by this group of people without consequences and may show the authorities’ inability to fulfill their obligations to ensure a safe and favorable environment for defenders of human rights.

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