Tolekan Ismailova

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Tolekan Ismailova
OccupationHuman rights defender

Tolekan Asanalievna Ismailova (Kyrgyz: Төлөкан Асаналиевна Исмаилова; born 17 June 1954) [1] is a Kyrgyz human rights defender [2] and director of Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan (formerly known as Citizens Against Corruption) since May 2000, [3] the Executive Secretary of the Kyrgyzstan NGOs Forum and founding president of Kyrgyzstan's Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society. [4] [5] [6] [7]


Early life

Ismailova was born in the Northern Tien Shan Mountains in Eastern Kyrgyzstan. Her father was a Kyrgyz language and literature teacher and a World War II Veteran. Ismailova holds a degree in foreign languages from the Kyrgyz National University. [8]


As founder and President of the Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society, Ismailova played a role in uniting the NGO sector of Kyrgyzstan. [8] In 2003, Ismailova was selected as a Reagan Fascell Democracy Program Fellow by the National Endowment for Democracy. [8]

In 2007, Ismailova was arrested for her participation in a national campaign called “I don’t believe,” which protested the inconsistencies in the 2007 Parliamentary election. [8]

As the director for Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan, meaning “One World,” Ismailova holds an annual human rights documentary film festival. In 2012, its sixth festival had nationwide controversy over a documentary about homosexuality and Islam in Morocco called I Am Gay and Muslim. [2] A court banned its screening at the festival. Although Ismailova appealed the ban, it was unsuccessful. She also complained that two days before the scheduled screening, the State Committee on Homeland Security had acted illegally forcing her to hand over a copy of the film. [9] After the screening, Ismailova and her family were labeled as “extremists and promoters of inter-ethnic and inter-religious conflicts” by the central intelligence agencies. [8]

Former Kyrgyz president Almazbek Atambayev accused Ismailova of working to overthrow his government using support from foreign secret services. [8] Ismailova and fellow activist Aziza Abdirasulova filed a court case against the government and requested an official apology. The apology was never granted.

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  1. "Tolekan Ismailova Vice President Director of the Human Rights Movement Bir Duino-Kyrgystan" (PDF). International Federation of Human Rights. 2013. Retrieved 5 March 2023.
  2. 1 2 "Kyrgyzstan and the Islamists". Retrieved 2021-11-02.
  3. "Kyrgyzstan: Revolution Revisited . Voices". Retrieved 2013-10-31.
  4. danielle. "Hivos partner Tolekan Ismailova under severe threat". Hivos . Retrieved 2013-10-31.
  5. "Tolekan Ismailova (Kyrgyzstan)". World Movement for Democracy. 2011-01-28. Retrieved 2013-10-31.
  6. "Tolekan Ismailova". WISE Muslim Women. Retrieved 2013-10-31.
  7. "Hivos - Hivos-partner ontvangt Franse mensenrechtenprijs - Hivos". Archived from the original on 2017-12-10. Retrieved 2017-12-10.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Abramian, Jackie. "Human Rights Defender Tolekan Ismailova Stands Against Kyrgyzstan's Patriarchal System". Forbes. Retrieved 2021-11-02.
  9. "Kyrgyzstan: Rights Activists Condemn Ban on Gay Muslim Documentary | Eurasianet".