Journalists, civil society and the international community report an increase in ‘hate speech’ in Kyrgyzstan. This has been particularly visible in the form of online harassment and abuse against , however civil society representatives, lawyers and political candidates have also been targeted. In addition, legislation in Kyrgyzstan which makes reference to ‘hate speech’ does not uphold international freedom of expression standards and provides for disproportionate sanctions.
#ChallengeHate is ARTICLE 19’s campaign as part of the Media Dialogue project in Kyrgyzstan to raise awareness of the international standards relevant to ‘hate speech’ and how these can be used to identify and challenge ‘hate speech’ through positive measures.
Media Dialogue, funded by the European Union, is implemented by a consortium of five organisations led by The European Partnership for Democracy: ARTICLE 19, Westminster Foundation for Democracy, Media Policy Institute, ALDA – European Association for Local Democracy.
Hate Speech in Kyrgyzstan
Over the past few years hate speech in Kyrgyzstan has been seen to increase. Targets have included media, especially investigative reporters, civil society, lawyers and politicians. At the same time, legislation which exists to address illegal hate speech is in violation of international freedom of expression standards.
Hate speech is harmful to individuals and societies
Hate speech targets people because of who they are. Such speech can also incite people to violence and cause physical and psychological harm to those whom the speech is against. Incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence is unacceptable and must be restricted.
State responses to hate speech
Governments must prohibit advocacy of discriminatory hatred which constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence and actively challenge hate speech. However, any restrictions should be provided for by law, be clearly necessary to protect people from discrimination and discriminatory violence, and be proportionate.
We can best counter hate speech with more speech
Simply banning hate speech does not address why people use it e.g. the root causes of this negative phenomenon. Broad and vague bans on hate speech can easily be used to stifle and punish dissent or criticism of the government. Ultimately, we can most effectively challenge hate speech with more speech
Hate speech is harmful. Here is what you can do to challenge it
Understand the different categories of hate speech
Reflect critically on how fear, ignorance, discrimination, or scapegoating can cause hate speech and increase inequality and harm others.
Distinguish between dissent (criticism of governments) and hate speech
Identify what speech may be restricted
What is hate speech?
Explore #ChallengeHate, ARTICLE 19’s website in Kyrgyz and Russian to define Hate Speech, understand who the targets of hate speech are, and learn about the different categories of hate speech.
Thinking critically about hate
Reflect on what causes hate and hate speech, the difference between stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination, and how the media and politicians have a responsibility to avoid scapegoating and dehumanising individuals and communities.
What if your government treats criticism as hate speech
Can criticism of governments, policies, religion or flags ever be classified as “hate speech”? Consider the crucial role dissent plays in holding our governments accountable and achieving a healthy democracy.
When can the Right to Freedom of Expression be restricted?
Because Freedom of Expression is the lifeline of a democracy, any restrictions on hate speech must always be clearly defined. Learn how to categorise hate speech according to its severity and take our 3-part and 6-part test to identify what hate speech should be restricted.
How can we challenge hate?
Can censoring hate speech ever genuinely stop hate? Or do we need more education, debate, and pluralistic media to build resilience and protect each other. Discover what your government must do, what the media is responsible for and what practical steps you can take to model good behaviour and call out hate when you see it.
The rise in online harassment against media organisations and journalists in Kyrgyzstan is extremely concerning, leading to self-censorship with a chilling effect on freedom of expression in the country. Begaim Usenova and ARTICLE 19
This publication has been produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the Media Dialogue project and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.