CENTRAL ASIA: OCT/NOV ‘09   IWPR journalist in Kyrgyzstan wins an award for 
parliamentary coverage.  By Saule Mukhametrakhimova, Central Asia editor 


CENTRAL ASIA: OCT/NOV ’09  IWPR event instrumental in mobilising community 
efforts to deal with growing problem of suicide in Tajikistan.  By Parvina 
Hamidova, coordinator of the IWPR Human Rights Reporting Project. (14-Dec-09)

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IWPR journalist in Kyrgyzstan wins an award for parliamentary coverage.

By Saule Mukhametrakhimova, Central Asia editor (14-Dec-09)

Long-term IWPR contributor Asyl Osmonalieva has been awarded a prize of 1,500 
US dollars for seven articles on issues debated in parliament. 

The competition was organised by the Kyrgyz parliament with the support of the 
European Commission-United Nations Development Programme Parliamentary Reform 
Project. The results were announced on November 4, which is celebrated in 
Kyrgyzstan as the Day of Information and Media. The competition was open to 
print and electronic media outlets as well as to individual journalists. 

According to Asyl, her prize came as something of a surprise, “I have to admit 
that there was a lot of criticism in the reports so it was a bit unexpected to 
find that in the end my publications were named as the best.” 

The prize comes after Asyl’s nomination as a finalist in the Developing Asia 
Journalism Awards - run by the Asian Development Bank Institute - for an 
article she wrote for IWPR entitled Kyrgyzstan’s Controversial ‘Winter Sale’, 
published in January 2009. In October, Asyl travelled to Tokyo for a training 
programme on economic, financial and environmental reporting as part of the 

Talking about her analytical reports on the inner working of parliament, Asyl 
said, “The decision to take part in the competition came at the last minute; I 
submitted seven reports just before the deadline.” 

Two of these items were written for IWPR. One of them, Disappointment at Kyrgyz 
Media Law Changes, looked into amendments to the media legislation approved by 
parliament. These required television stations to ensure that not less than 50 
per cent of their overall output was in the Kyrgyz language. They also had to 
produce 50 per cent of their content themselves and reduce the amount of 
programming bought in, mostly from Russian TV. The bill promptly came in for 
public criticism. 

“We did everything possible to give even-handed and balanced information and 
provide an opportunity those involved to state their position,” Asyl said. 

Another IWPR article, Kyrgyzstan: Yet Another Tax Amnesty, was about an effort 
to get on which taxes had not been paid. The controversial bill brought a 
strong reaction from the public and some deputies. Asyl said that by focusing 
on the heart of the controversy, the report depicted the difficult political 
dispute that lay behind this law. 

It was not the first time that Asyl had focused on the work of the parliament. 
Prior to that, she published a series of articles on transparency in the Kyrgyz 
parliament written with a grant from Internews. It was a success and her 
articles were republished in Kyrgyzstan and in Russia. 

Asyl continues to write about parliament and her aim is to show not only 
discussions themselves but also events behind the scenes. 

“I want to show parliament from various angles - how do big and small factions 
work in the parliament, what are the rules for their engagement? How do 
[deputies] act in response to the public reaction? What do civil society, 
experts, the community and ordinary voters think about the quality of adopted 
laws? It all seemed important and interesting to me,” she said. 

While working on her reports, Asyl found out that it pays off to go for topics 
that are undiscovered. 

“For example, [I wanted] to raise the issue about discreet lobbying for various 
bills,” Asyl said, adding that not many journalists write about this subject, 
possibly out of fear that it would be difficult to get interviews. 

“But in reality it turned out that even deputies themselves are ready to talk 
and discuss it.” 

She remembers the words of the deputy from the Communist party Nikolai Bailo, 
who praised her saying, “You have chosen a very good topic.” 

In another development, IWPR Bishkek radio editor Kaarmanbek Kuluev was one of 
the winners of a video competition highlighting civil society in action that 
was run by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, OSCE. 

It was launched to mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and 
the Iron Curtain. 

Kaarmanbek’s video Don Quixote of Bishkek tells the story of rights activist 
Maxim Kuleshov, who heads a group of young people united in a pressure group 
called Movement 25. The group protests against the policies of the Kyrgyz 
authorities in restricting public protests. 

Along with five other winners from post-communist countries, Kaarmanbek 
received a trip to Vienna to the OSCE in November. 

“Maxim Kuleshov, the subject of my video, was one of the most visible human 
right activists. He used to come up with different protests where he would 
mostly act alone. Some people called him a freak, a clown. Others saw him as a 
great idealist. I just tried to depict both sides at the same time and show 
pictures of what he really does. It was just a report about the person, a story 
that I found interesting to tell,” he said. 



IWPR event instrumental in mobilising community efforts to deal with growing 
problem of suicide in Tajikistan. 

By Parvina Hamidova, coordinator of the IWPR Human Rights Reporting Project. 

Some local authorities in Tajikistan have been spurred into making fresh 
efforts to tackle a rising tide of suicides by an IWPR round table on the 

Religious leaders and teachers also followed suit, offering talks on how to 
cope with difficulties of life without resorting to a tragic solution.

Students and teaching staff from Horog University who attended the meeting 
showed particular determination to put into action some of the ideas voiced 
during the IWPR event. 

They introduced weekly discussions and plan to start a campaign for their 
university to open a psychology department.

The IWPR round table on the issue of suicide and ways of dealing with it was 
held on October 22 in Gorno-Badakhshan, an autonomous region in the remote 
eastern part of Tajikistan. A similar debate was held there in June.

The latest session resulted in setting up a working group that intends to 
petition the regional administration for help in preventing suicide and raising 
awareness about the issue.

Organised within the European Union-funded IWPR Human Rights project, the 
meeting in Horog aimed to bring together the human rights community and media 
to raise awareness about the rising trend in suicide attempts.

The event was part of IWPR’s activities and publications addressing the 
alarming trend of an increase in suicide attempts across Tajikistan against a 
backdrop of an economic crisis that has hit the country badly.

According to the deputy head of the interior ministry department in 
Gorno-Badakhshan, Nazarbek Hudoyorov, who also took part in the IWPR round 
table, over the first nine months of this year there were 28 suicides and 
attempts compared a total of 12 last year. 

Of this year’s total, 20 were men and eight women and among them nine 
youngsters, Hudoyorov said.

The proposed working group would include members of local government bodies, 
youth groups and non-governmental organisations to work with the public on 
preventing suicide attempts and to raise awareness of the issue.

A participant in the round table, social activist Aziz Gaesov, said, “People 
always have problems but against the backdrop of the [financial] crisis, they 
have become particularly numerous. As a result, depression sets in from which 
no one is immune.”

According to Gaesov, each university and each organisation that has a large 
enough number of employees should have a room where people can talk to a 

The meeting received extensive coverage on regional TV and radio stations. In 
the words of radio journalist Safarmon Butabekova, it was the first time that 
the debate on suicide had involved such a wide range of people, “There was a 
huge response and as a result the problem was raised at the highest level.”

Follow-up events to the IWPR meeting were held based on ideas and proposals 
discussed during the round table.

According to Butabekova, city administration and district governments arranged 
public events to demonstrate that the issue of suicide and its causes should be 
talked about openly. She said that it also raised the authorities’ profile and 
brought them closer to the community. 

According to Butabekova, “For the first time people feel that they can discuss 
their concerns and worries with officials.”

One of the participants at the IWPR meeting, the head of the department for 
youth affairs and sport in Darvaz district, Komron Mirov, said that having 
participated in the round table he now pays more attention to the problem when 
visiting public places for his job. During a recent school visit, he reminded 
students that problems are an inevitable part of life and should not be an 
obstacle to living.

He also told of his own experience of having a conversation with a woman who 
was on the verge of taking her own life and was persuaded to seek help.

Students now also find it easier to discuss the issue with their teachers and 

Zebinisso Asanova, dean of the faculty at Horog University, told IWPR that this 
year seven students took their lives, “At these meeting we discuss the reasons 
that prompted our students to end their lives.

“It turned out that for some it was a personal tragedy, for others financial 

According to Asanova, there have been no suicide attempts at the university 
since they introduced the practice of weekly debates.

Hudoyorov told IWPR that the problem is very complex and requires the 
participation of all parties involved, “I believe that society should deal with 
this problem collectively. On their own, law enforcement bodies and other 
organisations or government agencies won’t be able to do anything.”

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