This Year’s Central Asia Human Rights Festival Focuses on Diversity

1 November 2018

Region: Central Asia

By Mikhail Yakovlev

BishkekBishkek, Kyrgyzstan will host the 12th annual Central Asia Human Rights Film Festival this month, honoring the seventieth anniversary of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights with a line up of twenty-four films exploring themes of diversity and discrimination.

Each film will focus on stories of people facing intersectional oppression and inequality, from a range of different countries, including but not limited to Kyrgyzstan, Russia and the United States. Many of the films tell stories of migrants, and women from around the world.

“Why do discrimination, injustice and poverty continue to grow seventy years since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?” said Tolekan Ismailova, when asked why the festival is focussing this year’s festival around diversity and discrimination. She went on to say that even though Kyrgyzstan has lived through two revolutions, and a period of ethnic violence in recent history, many of those who suffered the most have still not received full compensation, and continue to experience discrimination when it comes to accessing justice and basic human rights.“Why are political and religious fundamentalisms on the rise?” she continued. “Why do Central Asian government continue to persecute dissenting citizens and ethnic minorities under the guise of ‘war on extremism’?”

For Ms. Ismailova, the festival—which is the only festival of its kind in Central Asia—is a chance for the public to discuss these issues, and give those most impacted groups a chance to speak about their experiences. In addition to screening the films and facilitating panel discussions with the films’ directors, the organizers will run a number of workshops alongside the Kazakhstan-based media group Partizanskoye Kino [Guerrilla Filmmaking] to explore the power of documentary film to build solidarity with disadvantaged groups, and raise awareness about issues within their communities.

The festival will take place from November 12-17, in Bishkek. In the spirit of promoting diversity and access to human rights for everyone, each screening is free and open to the public. Watch a trailer of the films that will be screened at the festival here.