Kyrgyz militants, extremists to lose citizenship

By Erkin Kamalov


Participants of the forum 'The Future of Our Country Is in Our Hands: Say No to Extremism!' are shown in Bishkek, May 14. [Photo obtained by Erkin Kamalov]

BISHKEK -- A new law will increase the price that radicalised Kyrgyz pay for embracing terrorism and extremism.

President Almazbek Atambayev August 4 signed amendments to laws against terrorism and extremism. They enable the government to take away the citizenship of Kyrgyz who have embraced extremist choices like going to Syria to fight alongside militants.

The news comes at a time when authorities concede that more than 600 Kyrgyz are fighting in the Mideast.

Parliament approved the bill June 30 and relayed it to Atambayev for his final decision, his press office told Caravanserai.

Losing their citizenship

The bill that Atambayev signed amends a number of laws to expedite the deprivation of militants' citizenship. Any Kyrgyz convicted of extremism or terrorism and found to have fought in a foreign war will lose his or her citizenship.

"These laws are entirely appropriate, considering we're talking about national security," Bishkek attorney Edil Eraliyev told Caravanserai.

The law was necessary because Kyrgyzstan "is becoming a space for prohibited organisations", Toktogul Kakchekeyev of Bishkek, director of the Association of Political Scientists of Kyrgyzstan, said at a news conference in Bishkek August 4.

About 600 Kyrgyz have joined the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL), according to the State National Security Committee (GKNB), Kakchekeyev said.

"I consider the law that our president signed to be timely," he added.

Individuals who try to recruit youth to form an Islamic state in Kyrgyzstan should not be worthy of calling themselves Kyrgyz, he said.

The situation with militants prompted the government to revise the citizenship law, Interior Ministry (MVD) spokesman Rysbek Momunkulov told Caravanserai.

"We need ways to pressure those who commit such crimes," he said.

A hoped-for deterrent

The citizenship reform will deter some would-be militants and help stop the exodus to Syria, Momunkulov predicted, adding Kyrgyz do not want to see extremist relatives lose their citizenship.

"Moreover ... those who transport minors to foreign wars will face criminal charges," he added.

Suiumkan Esenaliyeva, an instructor of social sciences and law at Bishkek Humanities University, similarly praised the law.

The reforms "will let us identify and conduct preventive work with the individuals who covertly promote extremism and terrorism", she said.

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