Centralasiengrupperna Annual Report 2016

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Central Asia Solidarity Groups Annual Report 2016



Central Asia Solidarity Groups Annual Report 2016


About Central Asia Solidarity Groups

Central Asia Solidarity Groups is a politically and religiously independent non-profit organization. Our mission is to promote a democratic Central Asia, with a strong, active, and inclusive civil society that ensures human rights are protected, exclusion is minimized and social justice is achieved. We do this through long term solidarity work, trainings, exchanges and advocacy in the thematic areas of 1. Democratic Youth Organizing, 2. Gender, 3. Conflict Transformation, and 4. Culture. Our geographical focus is on Central Asia, meaning the five post-soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. In addition to our work in Central Asia, we run several projects in Sweden.

Bank account: 9670 04 899 05 Swish: 1233698479 Registration number: 802467-0195 Phone: +46 73 646 7661 Email: info@centralasien.org Home page: www.centralasien.org Sweden Office Centralasiengrupperna c/o Kontrapunkt Västanforsgatan 21 214 50 MalmÜ Central Asia Office Djinna street 59 723500 Osj, Kirgizistan 4


6–7 Reflections from last year 8–9 Central Asia 10 Management

16–17 ”In youth, we see the 24–25 potential leaders of Conflict Transformation Kyrgyzstan” 18–21 Women’s and Girls’ Rights 22–23 40 Women of Kyrgyzstan – From Past to Present

11–13 Partners and Organization 14–15 Democratic Youth Organizing

26–27 Culture 28–31 Information and Advocacy Work 32–33 Exchanges and Trainings 34–35 Thank you! 36–37 Economic report 5

Reflections from last year

Dear member! Thank you for the past year, a year that was incredibly important for Central Asia Solidarity Groups’ development. In many ways 2016 was something of a breakthrough year, in that we were able to scale up our operations, launch new initiatives and formalize partnerships. This development was made possible, not only by greater funding and additional staff, but also thanks to active members in Sweden and Central Asia. A heartfelt thank you to all those who contributed! As Central Asia Solidarity Groups grew and branched out over the year, we allowed for those organizational processes that were begun in 2015 to mature and bear fruit. This was done through a constant focus on thoughtfulness and evaluation of ongoing projects and collaborations, as well as our own work and approaches. In practice this meant that our core issues, thematic orientations and methods have become clearer and that we have gained a greater understanding of the role we can play in solidarity work in Central Asia. Closer attention paid 6

to documentation led to greater self awareness, an improved sense of community, and clearer communication, and has been a foundation for improving our core activities. We are proud of and happy over new projects that were launched in 2016. Our regional security project, which focuses on strengthening security within organizations and among Human Rights activists in four Central Asian countries, helped spark a creative explosion of initiatives and networks across Central Asia, even extending to several other post-soviet countries. This year’s edition of our annual Central Asia Days was the most well attended ever, and included many perspectives on issues currently facing the region. Our new project around UN Security Council Resolution 1325 reached hundreds of young women in southern Kyrgyzstan and helped increase mobilization for women’s rights in the region. This is but a few examples; in this annual report you can read in greater detail about all our activities of the bygone year.

2016 was an eventful and turbulent year for Central Asia, seeing a controversial referendum on Kyrgyzstan’s constitution and the passing of Uzbekistan’s dictator Islam Karimov. The region as a whole continues to move in an authoritarian direction, with civil society organizing and human rights gradually being curtailed. In Kyrgyzstan, the country we have been active in the longest and watch most closely, several anti-democratic law proposals were defeated in 2016; however, this is no guarantee they will not be re-introduced in the future. In parallel to these parliamentary discussions, the general climate for civil society representatives and various minority groups has drastically deteriorated, exposing them to stereotypes, discrimination, oppression, and violence to an ever-greater extent.

Central Asia, and developments in the region remain underreported by the media. Looking back now, five years after Central Asia Solidarity Groups’ formal inception, it seems appropriate to conclude that we do not only have a strong will to fill that gap, but within a short period of time also have succeeded in creating the conditions and capacities to be a key actor in counteracting these trends.

Malmö, March 17th, 2017

Gustaf Sörnmo Chairperson, Central Asia Solidarity Groups

In light of these negative tendencies, the need for solidarity with Central Asia’s civil society and human rights activists is ever more pressing. Nevertheless, many international actors are retreating from 7


Central Asia

The region of Central Asia consists of the five post-soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan. Landlocked between the two giants of Russia and China, they have a rich history, yet are very young nation-states, marked by a diverse ethnic and cultural composition.



The Board

Over the past fiscal year, the board has consisted of the following people:

In 2016, Central Asia Solidarity Groups’ board convened for 12 protocolled meetings at various locations across Sweden. In addition to these meetings, the board met in Göteborg in August for a strategy session to discuss long term organizational and thematic priorities. Over the year, members of the board also got together in smaller constellations and working groups to manage ongoing projects and to initiate new ones. This year several members visited our projects and partners in Central Asia.

Gustaf Sörnmo, chairperson Filippa Almlund, vice chairperson Johan Blomqvist, secretary Martin Holm, treasurer Alexandra Cruz, board member Gustaf Sörnmo and Martin Holm have been authorized signatories. Katja Dirsell has been the auditor. The nominating committee has consisted of Sanna Kyllsen and Frida Ekerlund.

The areas the board chose to prioritize are deepened contextual analysis, strengthened security protocols, documentation, democratic forms of organizing, long term vision, sustainable financing and methodology development within our thematic areas of operation. In practice this meant starting new working groups, updating policies and guidelines, launching a brand new graphic profile and home page, as well as increased interaction with decision and policy makers.

The annual meeting took place on March 13th at Västanforsgatan 21 in Malmö. Due to changes to the organization’s statutes, an extra annual meeting was held in Göteborg on August 28th.


Annual Meeting

1 • Central Asia Solidarity Groups’ new board, following the annual meeting. From left to right: Filippa Almlund, Gustaf Sörnmo, Martin Holm, Alexandra Cruz and Johan Blomqvist

Members On December 31st, 2016, Central Asia Solidarity Groups had 84 members.






Central Asia Solidarity Groups currently works with dozens of organizations in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Our four primary partners are: 1 • Novi Ritm is an organization by and for youth founded in 2013. The group’s foremost area of activity is the city of Osh, in southern Kyrgyzstan, where they run a combined office and activity center. The center functions as a platform for youth with a variety of backgrounds to explore and discuss social issues, to develop ideas and implement their own projects. The organization’s vision is a society in which young people work together to create a just, equal and sustainable world. They pursue this goal through campaigns, workshops and lectures on various themes. So far, the organization has mainly been focused on social justice and equality issues as well as conflict transformation. 2 • Based in the country’s capital, Bishkek Feminist Initiatives (BFI) is Kyrgyzstan’s first feminist activist platform. BFI wants to promote feminist values and actively challenge all forms of oppression and discrimination through campaigns, activism, cultural production, peaceful civil disobedience and cross-movement solidarity. BFI is part of a large regional network of feminist groups, organizations and initiatives, and currently functions as a hub for the Central Asian feminist movement. BFI is behind key initiatives to spread knowledge on feminist practices and issues and supports local justice causes.

3 • Girl Activists of Kyrgyzstan (GAK) was founded with support from BFI in 2013. The group is run entirely by girls aged 13 to 17, and has organized, among other things, camps for young activists to discuss questions around sexual health, reproductive rights, critical thought, non-violence and education. GAK also participates in different national and international forums to highlight issues surrounding girls’ rights in Kyrgyzstan and actively engages in social media to promote awareness of the situation of young women and girls. Their long-term vision is to grow and build a national, and eventually Central-Asia-wide network. Community Research and Initiatives Central Asia (CIRCA) was founded in August 2015 by young grassroots activists, researchers, civil society and media experts across causes, communities and countries in post-soviet Central Asia. This foundation aims to strengthen regional awareness-raising and advocacy, movement-building, knowledge-sharing and production efforts at all levels. Currently they have members from Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. CIRCA envisions social justice work and action-based research for Central Asian civil society by Central Asians in Central Asia. CIRCA’s priority themes include gender, sexuality, bodily rights, health, human rights, social justice, the environment, arts, peace and grassroots activism.



Organization and Offices In 2016, Central Asia Solidarity Groups continued to develop a democratic organizational structure that is sufficiently robust to be able to carry out large scale projects while at the same time being receptive to new initiatives, collaborations and endeavours. Aside from the board and the Malmö office team, Central Asia Solidarity Groups presently has several committees as well as a number of thematically oriented working and project groups. Central Asia Solidarity Groups has no geographically based local branches, and the above-mentioned groups are not tied to specific locations. Our main geographic areas of activity are Malmö/Lund, Stockholm and Göteborg. An exception to this a Göteborg-based local group that has been regularly organizing non-violence trainings; other local groups with a similar focus are set to launch in Växjö and Uppsala in 2017. Over the past year, a total of nine staff worked at the main office. This 12

included administrators, project managers, EVS-volunteers, and interns. Headed by Gustaf Sörnmo, the office has included Viktor Romanov, Frida Ekerlund, Jens Molander, Annika Skogar, Al Berg, Tatiana Egorova, Alex Mamytov, and Fatuma Awil. The work being done at the office has varied and included the filing of grant applications, project management, evaluation, administration, budgeting, and the organization of lectures, study circles, and other local events. In addition to the staff at the main office in Malmö, Sara Rajabi has been employed as a local group coordinator in Göteborg. Josefin Åström and Isabelle Persson completed internships at our Central Asia office in southern Kyrgyzstan, working closely with one of our local partner organizations there. At the end of the year we had what corresponded to five full time positions, in addition to several smaller project positions.

Collective Agreement In May, Central Asia Solidarity Groups signed onto a collective


agreement through the employers’ association for non-profit organizations IDEA.

New Home Page 1 • Project manager Jens Molander and Frida Ekerlund planning activities at our head office in Malmö.

In the fall, the office staff collaborated with designer Sigríður Hulda Sigurðardóttir and programmer Jonas Sandstedt to develop a fresh homepage, based on our new graphic profile. The home page will from now on function as a hub for analysis, advocacy and information about Central Asia and our work.

Staff Trainings Over the past year, the board and office team partook in several trainings aimed at strengthening our organizational capacity, improve specific skills and develop new methods for training, quality control and evaluation. This included participation in Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) courses, and various security workshops with actors such as

Blank Spot Project and Front Line Defenders. We also organized our own training days and courses for staff and members, covering topics such as digital security, anti-corruption, psychosocial health and burnout prevention in the civil society sector.

Organizational Network in Sweden and Europe Since 2014, there has been a focus on building a European network of likeminded organizations with experience of working in Central Asia. Due to limited resources on our part and insufficient interest on the part of our European partners, this network was largely dormant in 2016. Cooperation with Swedish partners, on the other hand, was intensified, and has included joint events like Central Asia Days 2016, with groups such as Östgruppen för demokrati och mänskliga rättigheter.


Democratic Youth Organizing

What we did during the year

Solidarity project with Novi Ritm In early 2016 we initiated our second Forum-Syd-funded project with Novi Ritm. The project, which will run until December 2017, aims at improving Novi Ritm’s organizational, methodological and administrative capacity to function as an autonomous platform where young people’s own ideas and initiatives are the starting point for all activity. Contentwise the current project builds on the previous one funded by Forum Syd in 2014-15, in that the youth initiatives begun then are now being further consolidated. There are currently five working groups, corresponding to the project’s themes: The Girls’ Group, the Eco-Group, the Debate Club, the Movie Club, and the Cartoon Artists’ Club. Each group is lead by young volunteers, with support from Novi Ritm staff and Central Asia Solidarity Groups’ interns. In 2016 a total of 122 youth between the ages of 16 and 21 participated in these groups through ongoing activities, outreach work, trainings, events, and campaigns. An additional 200 young people participated in different conferences and events held by Novi Ritm as part of the project.


Youth Forum in Southern Kyrgyzstan Over the past year, Novi Ritm was also involved in a number of campaigns and organized its own conferences as part of the Forum-Syd-funded project. In October 2016, they held the first in a series of four “good practice” forums, giving youth organizations from across southern Kyrgyzstan an opportunity to exchange experiences and discuss how they could cooperate to ensure youth has greater influence in Kyrgyzstan’s society. The forum was attended by 30 representatives of smaller grassroots organizations aged 15 to 29. Novi Ritm’s idea behind the forum was to create an alternative to the large-scale conferences traditionally held in Kyrgyzstan, where participation often is passive and youth organizations have a hard time making themselves heard. Novi Ritm has previously noticed that mutual trust between different youth organizations suffers under the harsh competition that exists over funding. Evaluation showed that all participants appreciated the opportunity to meet in such an informal context that fostered a climate where everyone felt comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings. This enables a true “good practice” forum where

Together we are strong. This is a motto that Novi Ritm has embraced in 2016 as they began the work of setting up a network of youth organizations across southern Kyrgyzstan. The idea is for the network to become a powerful voice toward decision makers.

representatives are willing to frankly share stories of failure and success experienced by their respective organizations. One of the forum’s results has been the close contact Novi Ritm now has with Young Media, one of the Oshbased participant organizations. Young Media’s membership currently consists mostly of boys and young men, and has thus been a welcome compliment to Novi Ritm’s mainly female activist base.

Social Theatre on Gender Stereotypes Novi Ritm has in years past participated in UN Women’s global campaign “16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence”. This year they chose to highlight gender stereotypes and its social consequences by renting an Osh theatre and performing so called social theatre there. The theatre had ten participants play various scenarios on the subject. The audience could put questions to those on stage, while the actors could share how it felt to play a victim or perpetrator. The event managed to attract an audience of 50, many of them students, and given their active engagement, Novi Ritm deemed the campaign a success. For the coming year, Novi Ritm is planning on evolving this form of theatre as an easily accessible way to raise social issues.

Context The countries of Central Asia are generally hierarchical societies in which citizens and civil society have little influence on the political system. Marked by age-based hierarchies, the societies of the region grant little voice to the young, and decisions that affect young people and their futures rarely embrace youth perspectives. Moreover, Central Asia’s societies are marked by other structural obstacles, with ethnic belonging, class and social status determining people’s ability to decide over their own lives. In Kyrgyzstan, for instance, a country generally depicted as a democratic oasis in comparison to its neighbors, several factors severely limit young people’s ability to actively and meaningfully participate in civil society. Due to a lack in knowledge and advocacy channels, and because of state corruption, youth experience difficulties in affecting their situation and claiming their human and democratic rights. Although plenty of youth organizations do exist in the country, they are often marred by the same hierarchical, discriminatory and exclusionary structures that predominate in the rest of society. Volunteering and activism in these contexts is often reduced to passive participation in activities, whereas meaningful involvement and organizing, grounded in the needs and realities of youth, are rare.


”In youth, we see the potential leaders of Kyrgyzstan” An interview with Ainagul Amatbekova, chairperson of Novi Ritm May 2016–May 2017

On the 16th of September in the late afternoon, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ainagul Amatbekova, age 20, who is the current Chairperson in the board of Novi Ritm. Ainagul currently lives in Osh with her family, and has now initiated her final year of studies at the Faculty of International Relations at Osh State University. When I asked her about her areas of interest, the first thing she answered was: “I like volunteering, because I like doing something useful for me personally and for my community”. We continued talking about the importance of volunteer work, and how even the simplest tasks such as making coffee or handing out folders to strangers in the streets matters. “I start with the little things”, Ainagul told me and highlighted that every person is important in order to successfully tackle social issues and problems in society. In other words, someone needs to be the one making coffee, and later it became clear that the “small things” was her first tasks at Novi Ritm when she joined in 2014 as a volunteer. Novi Ritm was at the time involved in a campaign related to 16

Gender Based Violence (GBV), and Ainagul was invited by a friend to join the organization, which she did despite her time-consuming university studies. However, the subject of GBV was not her personal motivation for becoming a volunteer. The true motivation was to get the chance to talk to foreigners in order to practice her English, where at this point in our conversation the energetic young woman in front of me expressed excitedly: “I like talking to people, like talking, talking, talking!” So after the campaign on GBV, she decided to join the English Movie Club at Novi Ritm and rather soon thereafter also the Girls’ Group. “I saw these things, these problems, for example not sharing housework with your partner and things like that, but I thought that it was okay, it is the way it is in our society. I even thought it was in all other places!” Ainagul continued by explaining that in the rather informal meetings that the Girls’ Group had in the beginning, she started to increasingly reflect on these issues and quite soon she started becoming deeply involved in gender issues: “Like, it is not normal to hit your own partner. Love this person; I mean how can men hit their wives?” For instance, she engaged in the

UNiTE campaign that Novi Ritm took part in during 2014, both as a participant and a volunteer. At the same time, she increased her overall engagement in other activities within the youth organization. Now Ainagul Amatbekova has been the chairperson in the board of Novi Ritm from May 2016 and is also the coordinator of one of the two major projects currently underway. During her term as a chairperson she hopes to contribute with promoting the organization: “Right now, we are not accepted as a youth organization, but as a feminist. And that’s not totally bad but it is sad to see that they [other civil society and governmental actors in Southern Kyrgyzstan] don’t understand the main point of Novi Ritm, which is for all young people!” During our conversation, it becomes clear that feedback and maintaining a non-hierarchical structure is key in this youth organization. Recently, Aida Akhmedova, a founding member of Novi Ritm, has left because of other opportunities that has come her way. Though happy for Aida, Ainagul, and many others within the youth organization, were expressing their worries related to her upcoming absence, upon which she had answered: “But it’s ok, it is good that I am

leaving, this is a chance for others.” Before letting Ainagul return to her busy schedule, I took the opportunity to ask about what she thinks is unique with Novi Ritm, considering that in Kyrgyzstan there is a quite wide array of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working on different issues, and Ainagul had recently told me that she has previous experience with Youth of Osh (NGO) and the Osh American Corner (a separate English section in the public library where different events are held). For Ainagul the answer seemed simple: “Youth for youth - we keep it! We understand that we might not always be well-experienced, but we don’t get stuck on it. We just try! For example we are not afraid of being criticized because we always want to and try to improve! By youth for youth – that is what we do!” Check out this cool article by Ainagul which provides a glimpse of the work of Novi Ritm: “A graphic threat: using comics to combat stereotyping in Kyrgyzstan” - insightonconflict.org/blog/2016/06/55579/ For more information on Novi Ritm and upcoming events, find us on Facebook or visit our website noviritm.org.


Women’s and Girls’ Rights

What we did during the year

Novi Ritm’s Girls’ Group As part of our solidarity work with Novi Ritm around supporting youth organizing in southern Kyrgyzstan, their Girls’ Group has been running projects aimed at changing gender norms, reducing gender-based violence and strengthening women’s and girls’ right. One of their methods in this has been to hold weekly meetings, thus creating a space for girls and women aged 15-25 to meet and explore what it means to be a young woman in Kyrgyzstan, to get organized around various projects, and to plan for and implement outreach activities strengthening women’s rights in the area.

“Young Women’s Movement Building and Empowerment in Post-Conflict Southern Kyrgyzstan” Thanks to project funding from the Folke Bernadotte Academy we started a new project with Novi Ritm this year. The project focuses on UN Security Council Resolution 1325, 18

which was adopted in 2000 and aims to strengthen the role of women as actors in peace processes, and highlights the importance of gender equality for conflict prevention. The project period is one year, and during the first six months the focus has been primarily on capacity building and awareness raising in Kyrgyzstan’s three southern districts – Osh, Jalal-Abad, and Batken. In the fall, the project team visited more than 15 schools and met hundreds of high school students to discuss women’s rights, the notion of security, and conflict prevention work. In parallel to these outreach efforts, Novi Ritm has also been working on improving capacities and raising awareness about Resolution 1325 among other women’s rights groups in the region. It is hoped that this will grow into a consolidated network which, later on, will be able to conduct advocacy efforts. This fall, the 1325-Project will enter its second phase, and its focus will shift toward carrying out “train-the-trainer” sessions with those youths who showed an interest in engaging with and conducting workshops on this topic. Novi Ritm will also hold a larger conference on Resolution 1325 in the spring of 2017.

1 • Meeting with representatives of UN Women’s local Osh office. 2 • In 2016, Novi Ritm began utilizing cartoon drawing as a way to highlight discrimination against girls. This has proven to be an effective way of making serious subject matter more easily accessible. 3 • A visit at the Bishkek based organization Nazik kyz, that works with gender and disability issues

Context Women and girls suffer restrictions on their rights in all Central Asian countries. Being treated equally or getting to decide over their own lives is not a given. Instead, families and society are based on gender hierarchies. This is manifested in widespread violence against women and the harsh gender norms saturating and structuring daily life. Even though several of the region’s countries have ratified CEDAW and the Beijing Declaration, women continue to be discriminated against in both the public and private spheres. It is not uncommon for young girls to be pressured into marrying a stranger, or worse, to be kidnapped and forced to marry their abductor. For many, marriage at a young age forecloses educational and professional opportunities later in life.



In Kyrgyzstan, where Central Asia Solidarity Groups has several years’ experience of working with local women’s rights activists, violence against women has not only increased but also become normalised, and more widely accepted. Between 30% and 80% of women in the country have experienced some form of violence. The reason the figure is so imprecise is the high estimated number of unreported cases. Domestic violence is often considered a family affair and merely 3% of cases reported to police result in convictions. Despite improvements in legislation and harsher punishment for bride-kidnapping, there are at least 12 000 abductions annually, 700 of which are reported to police. There is significant inequality in the political sphere as well. Kyrgyzstan has a quota mandating that 30% of MPs be women, but if a woman drops out, her spot goes to the next person on the list, usually a man. In 2016 a law was introduced banning those in top government jobs, but also including schools and daycares, from running for office. The idea behind this legislation was to prevent people in leadership positions from making decisions benefitting themselves. However, the law has devastating consequences for women’s participation in politics, since women with the confidence and capacity to run for office tend to be those that have attained positions of leadership, such as school principle. In 2013, the parliament of Kyrgyzstan adopted a national action plan for the implementation of UN security council resolution 1325. The resolution seeks to strengthen and elevate women’s roles as actors in peace processes, and highlight the importance of gender equality for conflict prevention. The action plan has not been put into effect in any way, mostly due to a lack of interest and capacity on the side of the state.

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Theme Week on Stress and Team Building One of the greatest threats facing women’s rights groups worldwide is the risk of activist burn-out. As part of Novi Ritm’s and Central Asia Solidarity Groups’ efforts to create sustainable structures, the Armenian activist Elvira Meliksetyan, who has extensive experience with these types of issues, was invited to Osh in October. During the week Elvira spent with Novi Ritm, staff and volunteers were able to discuss and develop new methods of reducing stress and improving their shared sense of community.

Academy of Gender Norms In early December, Novi Ritm organized a so-called Academy of Gender Norms, attended by about 40 young people. The idea was to create a platform where youth aged 14-28 could expand their knowledge of gender, gender norms and gender-based violence. The Academy also sought to provide its participants with concrete tools with which to confront oppressive structures in society, including debate and cartoon workshops. The roughly 20 youths who participated in the debate workshops got to train their critical thinking and practice how to respond to different arguments. An additional 20 young participants got to improve their cartoon drawing skills and how to use the medi20

um to highlight injustices in society in an easily accessible way. The Academy was a great success and Novi Ritm is now hoping for it to become an annual event.

Gender Stencils Over the past year, cartoons and social art have become an increasingly important aspect of Novi Ritm’s work on gender. In August, the organization invited Russian artist Viktoria Lomasko on a twoweek residency, during which she conducted workshops on different drawing techniques and on how to use art to address social issues. Viktoria’s visit ended with a vernissage at a café in central Osh, showcasing some of her 76 participants’ work.

Collaborations in Northern Kyrgyzstan Central Asia Solidarity Groups deepened and developed its collaboration with the organizations Bishkek Feminist Initiatives and Girl Activists of Kyrgyzstan by supporting their long-term activities, workshops, specific campaigns and exchange programs.

In the fall, Novi Ritm met hundreds of high school students in Osh, Batken and Jalal-Abad, using interactive methods to discuss women’s rights, security, and the importance of conflict prevention work.


40 Women of Kyrgyzstan – From Past to Present This project was initiated during fall 2016 by our Osh-based intern Isabelle Persson. At her first encounter with Kyrgyzstan, she was impressed with the history of the region, which led to her creating an archive of women who in different ways have contributed to Kyrgyz society. The focus of the project is diversity – all of the

women are from different times, places, and have worked in different spheres of society. With support from the creative portraits created by Timothy Örbom, the aim is to nuance and widen the Swedish view on Kyrgyz women and their lives. Here we offer you a small taste.

To take part of the project in its whole, visit centralasien.org/en/40women-of-kyrgyzstan/! You can also find us on Facebook and Instagram under the name @40WomenofKyrgyzstan!

Aziza Abdyrasulova Aziza Abdyrasulova was born 1958 in the Jalal-Abad region, which is located in Southern Kyrgyzstan. Today, Abdyrasulova is mainly known for her activism and leadership of the non-governmental organization KylymShamy (Torch of the Century), which is an organization working with human rights.

Elena Skochilo Elena Skochilo was born 1980 in Bishkek, which is the capital of Kyrgyzstan. Today, she is an award-winning photojournalist and blogger. Her firsthand coverage of the so-called Tulip Revolution in 2005 which ultimately led to President Askar Akayev’s ousting, was praised by local and international media, and she became a valuable reference for other news media and bloggers.


Baken Kydykeyeva Baken Kydykeyeva was born 1920 in an area located close to the capital Bishkek in Northern Kyrgyzstan. During her lifetime, she worked as an actress. She and three other contemporaries were collectively called the Four Daughters of Tököldösh, as was the name of the village they were all from.

Janyl Okoyeva Janyl Okoyeva was born 1993 and she has represented her home country Kyrgyzstan in several competitions. She is an athlete who competes in the sport weightlifting and she competed in the Olympic Games hosted in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

Kurmanjan Datka Kurmanjan Datka is the oldest included in the project and is perhaps the most well-known woman in the history of Kyrgyzstan. She was born 1811 in a region known today as the Alai mountain region. After the assasination of her husband, she took over the role he had as a political leader over Alai in Southern Kyrgyzstan. Her leadership was recognized by three nations, one being the Russian Empire.

Nurkamal Jetykashkaeva Nurkamal Jetykashkaeva was born in Northern Kyrgyzstan in 1918. Around 1937, her poetry was finally becoming recognized by the Kyrgyz people, and since she passed in 1952, several collections of her poetry have been published.

Telegey Sagumbayeva Telegey Sagumbayeva was born in Ak-Jar in the Naryn region in 1902. During her lifetime, she advanced within agriculture. She started working with her husband at the first sheep farm in Kyrgyzstan, and later in life became the head shepherd of that same farm.

Meylikan Kozubekova Meylikan Kozubekova was born 1932 in the village Kalba located in the mountainous area of Northern Kyrgyzstan. She is known in Kyrgyz history as one of the first female ‘komuzists’, which are musicians playing the Central Asian fourstringed lute called komuz.

Tattybubu Tursunbayeva Tattybubu Tursunbayeva was born in 1944 in a village in the Naryn region which is located in the Northeastern Kyrgyzstan. She started her carrier at the age of seventeen when she began her studies in theatre and drama. During her short life, she portrayed around thirty different role characters, including Juliet from Shakespeare’s worldrenowned Romeo and Juliet.

Umutai Dauletova Umutai Dauletova graduated in Osh in Southern Kyrgyzstan in 1999, and then continued her studies in Moscow, where she also became involved with Doctors Without Borders. She has since worked with several other international actors, and she is currently working as UNDP’s gender specialist and consultant.


Conflict Transformation

What we did during the year

Vardagens Civilkurage Our project Vardagens Civilkurage, which is supported by Allmänna Arvsfonden, trains youth and young adults in conflict intervention and develops extensive methodological material for trainings in this field. The project, which is now in year two of three, focuses on concretely exercising techniques of conflict transformation and aims at young people in Sweden aged 15-25. In 2016 a total of 328 people participated in the project’s 45 training sessions and six new trainers were trained. In addition to the open training sessions at our Malmö “dojo”, we also organized seminars on non-violence and civil disobedience, and participated in fares and other events. There are now regular activities in Malmö and Göteborg, where a local group coordinator has been hired. There are plans to expand to other locations in Sweden next year.

Non-Violence Training in Southern Kyrgyzstan In May, three civil courage trainers visited Osh, Kyrgyzstan, and held workshops with our partner organization Novi Ritm and other local youth organizations. This collaboration was launched in April with a visit from those youth organizations to Malmö, and their participa24

tion in trainings there. During their time in Kyrgyzstan, the trainers had a chance to study how to train for situations relevant for youth organizations in Kyrgyzstan. The trainings targeted young people in local organizations and primarily focused on proactive conflict intervention and democratic meeting facilitation techniques. One of the project’s results has been for Novi Ritm to revive its conflict resolution group.

Retreat and Lecture with Transform Now Plowshares In January, we were visited by Megan Rice and Paul Magno of the plowshare group Transform Now Plowshares, as part of their lecture tour through Europe. Together with them we organized a retreat on the topics of resistance, peace activism, and civil courage. We also hosted an open lecture at the Malmö venue Garaget, at which our guests discussed their experiences of disarmament, peace building, and civil disobedience actions in the US. Per Herngren, who also spoke at the event, discussed his new book Mode och Motstånd, on vulnerable resistance and civil disobedience.

Training in Georgia Together with several Central Asian partners we also organized a secu-

1 • Sightseeing in Malmö with the plow share activists Paul Magno and Per Herngren. 2 • Role play and forum theater are important tools in Central Asia Solidarity Groups’ trainings in non-violence and conflict intervention.

rity training and regional network meeting in Batumi, Georgia, in June. This was a unique opportunity for various groups from Central Asia to meet and plan regional efforts to improve security within relevant movements. There was a specific focus on establishing routines and mechanisms for the evacuation of activists both within and away from the region. Additionally, several elements related to conflict resolution and personal safety also formed part of the program. There were follow up events later in the year in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

Context Central Asia Solidarity Groups has been working with this thematic area in a wider sense since 2010; from interpersonal conflicts to structural oppression. Our efforts have been primarily focused on southern Kyrgyzstan, a region marked by several lines of conflict. In June of 2010, the city of Osh was the epicenter for a large-scale political and ethnic conflict that saw clashes between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks and left hundreds of dead. These events are still very present among locals, as many lost family members, friends, or their homes. While Osh has become a more segregated city, where groups avoid one another and stereotypes and hate flourish, there are still some neighborhoods that have not been rebuilt. Border disputes with neighboring Uzbekistan and Tajikistan are also a recurring feature in southern Kyrgyzstan. Other examples of conflicts are the marginalization of other minority groups, structural discrimination in the labor market, religious extremism, nationalist hate groups, and segregated media spreading xenophobic propaganda. Central Asia Solidarity Groups has chosen to work in close proximity to local organizations in Osh. This has included providing financial support to their more outreach-oriented work aimed at preventing such issues, but also providing trainings in non-violence, and supporting project and organizational development aimed at creating more inclusive and democratic organizations while reducing conflict and fragmentation. This is something that sets us apart from the majority of international aid organizations that poured into southern Kyrgyzstan in the wake of the 2010 events, only to leave as soon as their funds had run out and the conflict’s most tangible manifestations had disappeared.


2 25


What we did during the year

Collaboration with Dotterbolaget In May 2016, we organized an artist residency with the Swedish feminist cartoon collective Dotterbolaget in Bishkek and Osh. Artists Karolina Bång, Karin Casimir Lindholm, My Eklund and Sara Granér spent a month in Kyrgyzstan, participating in workshops, seminars and joint projects with a number of local feminist groups. Since then, this partnership has continued in the form of meet-ups and workshops during activist visits to Sweden. Thanks to this collaboration with Dotterbolaget, cartoon art as a tool for social criticism has also been integrated into the methodologies of several of our partner organizations. We are currently planning an additional residency with Dotterbolaget in Central Asia next year!

Feminist Music Camp From October 16 through 22, BFI and its regional partners held the first feminist music camp, in Bishkek. This is the first time that both activists and feminist communities from Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Ukraine and Russia organized a joint event involving music, poetry and dance. Thanks to this camp and its safe atmosphere, participants were able to write lyrics, compose songs, and even record their pieces on au26

dio or video. Moreover, this event inspired our organizations to look at community outreach, community building and mobilization from a completely different perspective and enabled us to organize more similar events in the future, involving more community members. Over the course of seven days, there were sessions on vocals, jam sessions, DIY/DIT music instruments, herstory of activist feminist music, feminist movie screenings, slam poetry and more.

Forma The collective Forma is a handicraft group we run in cooperation with the organization Tamam Lund. During 2016 this project became more organizationally established and its activities expanded. The collective creation process remains at the base of this project. This year’s highlights included three major design workshops: a week-long stay at Wettershus Retreat, during which we created three features for their garden; the creation of our own room at Lund’s maker space Stenkrossen; and a lamp shade workshop. In addition to this, we held smaller workshops on instrument making, built a mentorship system, and organized social activities and trips. In the middle of the year, Forma received support from Allmänna Arvsfonden to continue this work autonomously. This means that 2016 was

1 • 20 members of Formagruppen went to the Wettershus Retreat in the summer to construct various features in the venue’s green spaces. Here a deck chair is being built.



Central Asia Solidarity Groups’ last year as a project patron. We intend to continue working together closely in the future and there are plans to incorporate craft and design related practices into our projects and collaborations in Central Asia.

The lack of cultural exchange between post-soviet Central Asia and Sweden/Europe is a bleak fact we have been wanting to work with for some time. In 2014 we laid the groundwork for the creation of a Central Asian cultural platform by networking among regional cultural actors and implementing some pilot projects. Our vision is to actively and broadly work with this from now on, based on collaborations with anyone from actors and musicians to movie makers, cartoon artists and wood workers. We are especially interested in cultural projects and artistic collaborations that tie into our other thematic fields, where culture can be utilized to advance the struggle for democratic rights and liberties. Central Asia is also a region in which many cultural forms and expressions are disappearing or being forgotten; this is something we would like to counter.

Other Cultural Projects Due to difficulties in finding the necessary funding, a musical exchange project involving the Pamiri sufi band Samo was cancelled in the spring. The production of a film documenting the 2014 Central Asian tour of MalmĂś band Ved has been put on hold for the same reason. We are regularly approached by different actors regarding cultural projects and collaborations in Central Asia and other post-soviet spaces. We have, for example, helped Swedish musicians book shows in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. We have also been in touch with artists from Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Armenia, Chechnya and elsewhere about future joint projects. Over the year, Central Asia Solidarity Groups staff participated in festivals and cultural events in Russia, Ukraine and Georgia.


Information and Advocacy Work

Over the past years, Central Asia Solidarity Groups has increasingly focused on information and advocacy work. We strive to represent and amplify Central Asian grassroots, civil society and marginalized voices towards Swedish and European decision makers, and to raise perspectives that are rarely included at the higher levels of the political process. In the wake of the anti-democratic legislative proposal in Kyrgyzstan, for example, we coordinated meetings between the Swedish ambassador in Central Asia and local democracy and equality advocates. Through lectures, study circles and movie screenings, we also work to educate the Swedish and European publics on these issues and perspectives.

Central Asia Days 2016 On November 27th and 28th Central Asia Solidarity Groups hosted the third annual Central Asia Days. This year’s conference took place in Stockholm and consisted of a series of lectures, panel discussions and a movie screening. Day one, 28

which took place at Solidaritetshuset and was organized with support from our partners at Östgruppen för demokrati och mänskliga rättigheter saw two enriching panel discussions. On the panel From Discrimination to Emigration two activist migrants from Central Asian shared their personal stories of struggle and repression. The second panel, titled Struggling for Equality, featured three young Kyrgyzstani activists working with the promotion of disability and women’s rights and equality. The day ended with a sneak preview of our exhibition “Activism, Civil Society and Rights Based Work in Kyrgyzstan”, which was to officially open in Stockholm shortly thereafter. Day two took place at the Royal Coin Cabinet in Stockholm’s beautiful old town. Elmira Satybaldieva and Balihar Sanghera from the University of Kent opened with a lecture titled “Why is credit a problem in Kyrgyzstan? Debt, interest and unearned income”, in which they took a critical look at the impact of the microcredit approach to development on the rural population of Kyrgyzstan. After that, Anna Lelik



and Bektour Iskender presented the story of Kloop, one of Kyrgyzstan’s most important independent news outlets. Central Asia Days 2016 ended with a screening of the 2013 Kazakh movie Harmony Lessons at Bio Zita. 1 • Vardagens Civilkurage at the Swedish Forum for Human Rights, on the topic “How can we become creators of rights?” 2 • Frida Ekerlund being interviewed about conflict management by Swedish Public Radio.

Exhibit on Civil Society in Kyrgyzstan One of Central Asia Solidarity Groups’ main efforts in Sweden in 2016 was the organization of an exhibition called “Activism, Civil Society and Rights Based Work in Kyrgyzstan”. The exhibition tells the stories of eight Kyrgyzstani civil society actors ranging from teenage feminist activists to human rights veterans, and from some of our long-term partners to more recently established contacts. The groups’ portraits are based on interviews conducted in Kyrgyzstan in June 2016. After opening at Göteborg’s Frilagret, a meeting place for young people, in October, the exhibition moved to Malmö in November. There it was on display at the main public library and the independent

movie theatre Panora. The exhibit’s final stop was Solidaritetshuset in Stockholm. The exhibition will continue touring Sweden in 2017.

Lectures and Seminars During 2016, Central Asia Solidarity Groups organized several public lectures and seminars. In May, activists from Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan gave public talks at Malmö University and Garaget in Malmö, as well as in Stockholm. In the summer and fall, staff and volunteers held lectures and conducted seminars for Malmö University’s Foreign Policy Association, Glokala Folkhögskola, and with guests from Kyrgyzstan also at Lund University. We were also present at the Swedish Forum for Human Rights, engaging with interested members of the public one on one at our booth, and hosting a panel discussion on “Youth, Gender and Sexuality Activism in Kyrgyzstan” with guests from that country. During Almedalen Week we conducted daily trainings in non-violence outside of St. Knuts school. 29

Strategic Networks Central Asia Solidarity Groups is a member of several different advocacy networks, including Forum Syd’s Eastern Network. We are members of Globalportalen and have been able to make our core issues visible for an international audience there. In 2016 we broadened our Swedish organizational network by adding partners like Civil Rights Defenders and Svenska Freds Stockholm. Furthermore, by participating in events such as the Swedish Forum for Human Rights in Malmö we became visible to a greater extend and have formed new relationships.

Advocacy Work We organized several meetings and hearings at which activists, researchers, and civil society representatives from central Asia got to speak with decision makers in Denmark and Sweden. In November, for instance, we set up a hearing with activists from four Central Asian countries at the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Stockholm. Central Asia Solidarity groups was also invited to meet Peter Bursian, the EU’s special representative for Central Asia, during his visit to the MFA 30

in October. In May, we participated in the conference Women Deliver in Copenhagen, and in September we attended the OSCE’s Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in Warsaw, Poland, raising some of our key issues on both occasions. We continued to participate in the Swedish People’s Campaign for the Right to Asylum, which protests regulations stipulating carrier liability, obstacles to family reunification, temporary residence permits and all other measures that restrict the right to asylum and contradict the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Together with 38 other civil society actors, we wrote an op-ed calling on an end to the inhumane deportations of asylum seekers to Afghanistan. You can find the article here: http://www.etc.se/debatt/ stoppa-utvisningarna

3 • One of the most well attended events during this year’s Central Asia Days was Balihar Sanghera’s lecture on debt and microcredit in Kyrgyzstan

Visibility in Media Central Asia Solidarity Groups made several media appearances in 2016, both in connection to events we organized in Sweden and to provide expertise on current developments in Central Asia. We have been featured in media including ETC, Sydsvenskan, Feministiskt Perspektiv, Amnesty Press, Hallå Malmö and Swedish Public Radio.



Exchanges and Trainings

There are currently few opportunities for European and Central Asian activists and civil society representatives, especially young ones, to meet, exchange ideas and build alliances. Central Asia is not prioritized by the majority of international donors, which means that financing is incredibly scarce. We are more or less the only organization coordinating exchanges, volunteer placements, internships and artist residencies between the regions. Despite the shortage in financing we are planning on further expanding this aspect of our work, in order to give more young people the chance to meet and learn from one another, take advantage of educational opportunities, and work transnationally with issues of social justice.

European Voluntary Service (EVS) In 2016, Central Asia Solidarity Groups received two EVS volunteers via the EU’s youth program Erasmus+. Two persons from Russia volunteered at our main office in Malmö. Their responsibilities included organizing study circles, holding lectures and workshops, heading smaller projects and working with organizational development, evaluation, and administration.

Interns in Osh In 2016, Central Asia Solidarity Groups became one of ten Swedish civil society groups to be granted 32

funds to participate in the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency’s internship program. The program gives young Swedes aged 20 to 30 the opportunity to increase their international development competency in the field. In the long term, the internship program wants to broaden the Swedish resource base by bringing the interns’ experiences back to Swedish actors. The first interns, Josefin Åström and Isabelle Persson were dispatched to Novi Ritm in August 2016. They spent four months there working primarily on organizational development and capacity building, something that has been incredibly valuable for both Novi Ritm and Central Asia Solidarity Groups. Through their presence, and their attentive observation of the local context and conditions there, the interns also facilitated our work.

Exchange with Women’s Rights Defenders and Youth Activists In early April, Central Asia Solidarity Groups welcomed four activists from partner organizations in Kyrgyzstan to Malmö and Stockholm. The exchange included workshops, study visits and meetings with organizations working in various ways with women’s and girls’ rights, gender equality, and masculinity norms, including Tjejjouren, Dotterbolaget, Feministisk Festival, and Lund University’s Gender Department. The exchange made for a great occasion to discuss common projects and future collaborations.

We conducted several exchanges and trainings this year. During a couple of beautiful late summer days CAG staff participated in an intensive course for civil courage trainers at Lillsjödal in Scania.

Intensive Course for Civil Courage Instructors Within our project Vardagens Civilkurage, we organized a fiveday intensive course in Lillsjödal for future trainers. The course, which was facilitated by Per Herngren, highlighted racism, techniques of domination, age discrimination, class oppression, harassment, bullying and other issues. The six trainees who received certification as civil courage instructors, have since participated in our ongoing training sessions.

November Convening Six representatives from our partner organizations in Central Asia involved in the regional security project visited Malmö for two weeks in November. The convening had a multi-purpose character: both follow-up and evaluation of project activities in each partner country

and discussion of joint efforts in the future. This provided Central Asia Solidarity Groups and our partner organizations with a comprehensive picture of the regional security project’s flow of activities and its logical correlation, as well as outputs and outcomes. The project consortium decided on further steps to continue cooperation in the future and discussed opportunities for additional and potential funding opportunities..

Nazik Kyz Study Visit Central Asia Solidarity Groups was visited by an activist from Nazik Kyz, an organization that works with disability rights and young women in Kyrgyzstan. Ukei, who represented Nazik Kyz, participated in November project meetings, but also had a separate program of events in Malmö. Among others, she spoke at a Lund University seminar, met with Unga Funkisar Skåne, RFSU, Malmö, and others. 33

Thank you!

Aida Akhmedova, Cihan Arikan, Linnéa Blomgren, Jessica Bragd, Karolina Bång, Karin Casimir Lindholm, Monica Collins, Benedetta Crippa, Katja Dirsell, Tatiana Egorova, My Eklund, Wilfred Gachau, Sara Granér, Maria Hamberg, Per Herngren, Sigríður Hulda Sigurðardóttir, Bektour Iskender, Oleg Ivanov, Alexander Karlsson, Anna Lelik, Matilda Renkvist Quisbert, Isabelle Persson, Jonas Sandstedt, Balihar Sanghera, Elmira Satybaldieva, Annie Axelsson, Asel Stamova, Leif Sörnmo, Petter Thörne, Medet Tiulegenov, Elias Westerberg, Bermet Zhumakadyr kyzy, Josefin Åström ABF Malmö, Bio Zita, Dotterbolaget, Frilagret, Kontrapunkt, Malmö Pride, Mats Wahlberg & co, Malmö stadsbibliotek, Biograf Panora, RFSL Newcomers, Solidaritetshuset, Östgruppen, Underverket 34

v dyr kyzy

Bill Schiller Leif Sörnmo Olga Ten Petter Thörne co Medet Tiulegenov Bermet Zhumakadyr kyzy

Bio Rio ällskapet Dotterbolaget Folkuniversitetet Garaget Malmö Kontrapunkt Malmö Pride


K O N U N G G U S TA F V : s 9 0




Economic report


2016-01-01 2015-01-01 /2016-12-31 /2015-12-31

Operating incomes, changes in inventories etc. Grants

3 886 223

2 254 551

16 740


3 902 963

2 254 551

-3 040 811

-813 543

-276 039

-393 739

-97 756

-19 341

Information and advocacy

-387 277

-166 415

Cultural projects

-322 884

-198 892

Other external costs

-71 322

-150 774

Sum operating costs

-4 196 089

-1 742 704

-293 126

511 847

Other incomes from interests and similar posts



Interest expenses and similar posts





Results after financial posts

-293 079

511 599

Results before tax

-293 079

511 599

Results of the year

-293 079

511 599

Other operating incomes Sum operating incomes, changes in inventories etc. Operating costs Development projects Exchanges and trainings Volunteering and activist residences

Operating profit Financial posts

Sum financial posts





8 857

52 983

10 500


19 357

52 983

1 399 137

1 313 588

1 399 137

1 313 588

Sum current assets

1 418 494

1 366 571


1 418 494

1 366 571

912 465

400 866

-293 079

11 599

619 386

912 465

90 534

70 607

Accrued expenses and deferred income

708 574

383 499

Sum current liabilities

799 108

454 106

1 418 494

1 366 571

ASSETS Current assets Current receivables Other receivables Deferred expenses and accrued incomes Sum current receivables Cash and bank balance Cash and bank balance Sum Cash and bank balance

EQUITY AND LIABILITIES Equity Balanced profit or loss Result of the year Sum equity Current liabilities Other liabilities


All amounts in SEK. 37

Central Asia Solidarity Groups Annual report 2016 Coordinator Gustaf Sörnmo Text production Gustaf Sörnmo, Annika Skogar, Al Berg, Isabelle Persson, Viktor Romanov and Frida Ekerlund Proof reading Linnéa Blomgren Graphic design Annie Axelsson Photos Jens Molander, Al Berg, Gustaf Sörnmo and others. Cover photo An urban area in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan



Central Asia Solidarity Groups Headquarters Main office in Sweden c/o Kontrapunkt Västanforsgatan 21 21450 MalmÜ Office in Central Asia c/o Novi Ritm Djinna street 59 723500 Osh Kyrgyzstan Contacts +46 736 46 7661 info@centralasien.org centralasien.org IBAN SE26 8000 0831 3952 4073 5240 BIC SWEDSESS Swish 1233698479 Social Media instagram.com/centralasiengrupperna flickr.com/photos/centralasiengrupperna facebook.com/centralasiengrupperna


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