Global Voices on Pluralism

Integration issues of the ethnic Kyrgyz in Kyrgyzstan: The example of the Kyrgyz who moved from Tajikistan

Publication Date: April 2018

Ideat Temirbek uulu

Head of the Department of Ethnography at the State History Museum of the Kyrgyz Republic and a Senior Professor at Kyrgyz State University in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

The article studies the integration issues of the ethnic Kyrgyz living in Kyrgyzstan (using the example of those who moved from Tajikistan). This issue has relevance as the Kyrgyzstan is currently attempting to improve its inter-ethnic relations.

The researcher collected the necessary information by conducting a short period of field research in a number of villages in Chui oblast which are densely populated by ethnic Kyrgyz. During the research in Jany-Jer, Jany-Pahta, Vasilievka, Sokuluk, Kaiyngdy, Vinogradnoe, and Petrovka villages in Chui oblast about 20 people were interviewed. There was also an opportunity to closely observe the daily activities by living with the ethnic Kyrgyz as their guest. Scientific literature, archival documents, press, and online articles about the ethnic Kyrgyz were used as source of information.

As the research findings revealed, the ethnic Kyrgyz first moved here from Tajikistan as “refugees” and then as “kayrylman” [returnee]. The civil war in Tajikistan, social issues, pressure from local authorities and other factors were behind their decision to move to Kyrgyzstan. Chui oblast has a large number of ethnic Kyrgyz (over 30,000). Although the Kyrgyz Republic has provided political and legal support to these ethnic Kyrgyz by granting them “refugee” and “kayrylman” statuses and citizenship, their social issues and integration problems still remain unaddressed due to various reasons.

The researcher briefly touched upon certain social issues, but the main focus of the research was to study the integration issues of the ethnic Kyrgyz. The cultural, linguistic, and religious aspects of the issue were examined, since they play a big role in the integration processes. The ethnic Kyrgyz’s distinct culture and customs, their linguistic dialect, a higher level of Islamization, their living in groups and reluctance to integrate with locals, and the locals’ derisive attitude towards them were also studied throughout the research.

Currently, the number of ethnic Kyrgyz is growing as they continue moving from Tajikistan to Kyrgyzstan. Their integration in Kyrgyzstan will have an impact on building an inclusive society in Kyrgyzstan.