The Institute for Public Policy is a Bishkek-based independent organization that was founded in April 2005. It aims at promoting formation of a practice of public policy and development of mechanisms of constructive interaction between state institutions, civil society, mass media and businesses.
Conference transcript: "The Role of Youth in Conflict Prevention"
On February 10, 2012, the Institute for Public Policy organized a conference on the topic "The Role of Youth in Conflict Prevention."
Moderator: Meerim Shamudinova, the Institute for Public Policy
Irina Vigovskaya, director of the Kazakhstan Center for Mediation Sergei Masaulov, president of the Center for Advanced Research Nazgul Turdubekova, head of the public foundation "Children’s Rights Defenders League"
Sanjar Abakirov, project coordinator of the research institute "Serep" Asel Abaspekova, student of Kyrgyz-Russian Slavik University (KRSU) Erkin Abdikadyrov, expert of the Centre for Regional Problems Research Nursultan Abduhalilov, a student of American University of Central Asia (AUCA) Aigul Abdyldaeva, a member of the State Directorate for the Rehabilitation and Development of Osh and Jalal-Abad (Osh, Osh oblast) Mira Abdyraimova, coordinator of the NGO "Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society" (Issyk-Kul region, Karakol) Seide Ablekeeva, student of Bishkek Financial and Economic College Talgat Abykeev, student of The International University of Kyrgyzstan (IUK) Jyldyz Akanbaeva, regional assistant of the Youth Human Rights Group (YHRG) (Batken Region, Kyzyl-Kiya) Asel Akmatalieva, coach volunteer, NGO "Youth Peer Education Network Y-PEER” Zeynura Akmatalieva, student of Osh State University, an assistant conflict coach at the Youth Center in Osh (Osh, Osh oblast) Beishenbek Alymkulov, CEO PF "Alliance of Youth" Gulzana Asanbayeva, a member of the NGO "Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society" (Issyk-Kul region, Karakol) Baktyyar Asanov, a student of Kyrgyz National University (KNU) Said Asanov, project coordinator, public foundation "Kylym Shamy" (Osh, Osh oblast) Mavlyan Askarbekov, representative of the political movement "Youth Council" Cholpon Babalieva, PR-manager of the legal clinic "Adilet" Tilek Bayev, a student at IUK, program assistant of the educational center “Street law” (Jalal-Abad region, Jalal-Abad) Aibek Bayymbetov, a member of the association "Ak Shumkar KUT" Ularbek Bakyrdinov, representative of the public association "Alash-Ordo" Zhetkergen Bikeyev, First Secretary, Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the Kyrgyz Republic Azima Bokoshova, representative of PF "Network of promoting migrant workers” Meder Bolotbekov, a representative of AIESEC Natalia Borisenko, program assistant, PF "Children’s Rights Defenders League" Arthur Bukalaev, representative, PF "For Tolerance International” (FTI) Ruslan Vakhitov, student of Osh State University, volunteer organizer of the Youth Center (Osh, Osh oblast) Anna Voronina, youth projects specialist, Bishkek Business Club (BBC) Saltanat Dautova, student of Ataturk Alatoo University Aysanat Dzhambaeva, chief specialist of the regional and social policy of the Ministry of Youth, Labour and Employment Dastan Dzhaparov, student of the Management Academy under the President of the KR Anara Zhamgyrchieva, project assistant of the NGO "Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society" (Naryn, Naryn oblast) Gulmira Zhantaeva, professor of the Kyrgyz State Law Academy Aytumar Jeenbekov, counselor of the Bishkek branch of the International Institute of Monitoring and Development of Democracy Abdraiym Zhorokulov, representative of the UNDP Peace and Development Program Almaz Isakov, civic education program assistant of the Youth Human Rights Group (YHRG) Bakhodir Ismailov, volunteer of the association "Justice" (Jalal-Abad region, Jalal-Abad) Bermet Kanimetova, an employee of the Ministry of Youth, Labour and Employment Mirgul Karimova, program manager of the Eurasia Foundation of Central Asia (EFCA) Erlan Kokulov, volunteer of the public foundation "Children’s Rights Defenders League" Olga Korjova, representative of the Youth Human Rights Group (YHRG) Murat Koshmuratov, chairman of the foundation "Architecture of Peace" Dilshat Mavlonov, representative of the NGO "Young Politicians Club" (Batken, Batken oblast) Aida Madalieva, director of PF "Tynchtyk" (Jalal-Abad region, Kochkor-Ata) Azamat Mambetsadykov, project manager, association "Progress through Education" Kanat Midin uulu, student of Kyrgyz State Law Academy Kubanychbek Minbaev, a leading specialist of the social development and health department of Batken oblast administration (Batken, Batken region) Vadim Mishin, coordinator of the NGO project “Move Green” Nuripa Mukanova, Secretary General of Anti-Corruption Business Council (ACBC) Islambek Mursabekov, member of the supervisory board of the Public Fund of State Property Aibek Myrza, a member of the youth association "Ak Shumkar Kut" Adil Nazarov, chairman of the youth movement "Yntymak" Sergei Nikitenko, Student Council Chairman BATM (Batken region, Sulukta) Kamila Nurkulova, member of the NGO "Property of the Republic" Doolot Nusupov, consultant, public foundation "Kylym-Shamy" Begimai Olzhobaeva, volunteer of the foundation "Bakyt Astanasy", Civil Registry Officer (Jalal-Abad region, Jalal-Abad) Aigul Oruzbaeva, a student of AUCA Oleg Porvatkin, lawyer of PF "Kyrgyz Nuru" Indira Raimberdieva, director of the public foundation "Peacemaking Center" Ulan Ryskeldiev, chairman of the supervisory board of the "Soros-Kyrgyzstan" foundation Maksatbek Sarchayev, executive director of PF Youth Center "Youth of Talas” (Talas, Kokoi village) Ayim Sultangazieva, representative of the political party "Zamandash-Contemporary" Perizat Tashiyeva, student of KRSU Nafisa Tashhodzhaeva, regional manager of FedEx (Osh, Osh oblast) Eliyzar Tilebaldy uulu, president of the board of the NGO "Heritage of the Republic" Gulzhamal Tokombaeva, senior program assistant, Department of Political-Military Affairs of the OSCE Centre in Bishkek Ulan Toktosunov, student of IUK (Jalal-Abad region, Jalal-Abad) Jyldyz Tologon kyzy, administrative assistant of the DFID in the KR Fatima Torokanova, a member of the initiative group for the legislative initiative "KUCH" Nurkamal Tursunbekova, student of Kyrgyz Technical University n.a I.Razzakov Michael Chumeyko, trainee of the PA "Kyrgyz Agency of Analysis and Media" Elena Shilonosova, a member of the Youth Environmental Network of Kyrgyzstan Sukhrobjon Ergashev, social teacher of a secondary school in Andarek (Batken, Andarek village) Tattuububu Ergeshbaeva, member of the NGO "Youth Peer Education Network Y-PEER”
Askar Aktalov, IA “Knews” Bakyt Asanov, "Azattyk" Illarion Zvyagintsev, “Polit.kg” Eugenia Kim, independent journalist Marina Miroshnik, online newspaper "Vechernyi Bishkek" Grigory Mikhailov, IA “Regnum” Anastasia Romanova, IA “24.kg”
Merim Shamudinova identified the topic of the conference and introduced the speakers.
Nazgul Turdubekova: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. In my speech, I want to emphasize a few points. The first area of our work is school, the second - young people in rural areas, and the third is our involvement in emergency situations and work in communities. Speaking of our work during peaceful times, our organization conducts regular monitoring of children's rights in schools, and we see that there is an increasing number of violations of the rights of students, and the number of conflict situations is growing. Moreover, if the earlier conflicts in schools were between small groups or between students of the same class, today there are conflicts between the communities of high school students. High school students of one of the village are in conflict with students of another village, and they do not realize that their actions can result in death or injury of their peers. We also see misunderstanding between students and school administrators.
The analysis shows that most often, conflict between high school students happens because of the inactivity of the school administration; sometimes school administration even encourages these types of communication and violence. Moreover, even if the administration has the information that children fight, or that there is a massive school racket, the director and head teachers turn a blind eye to these facts, and the result is that sometimes we have fatal outcomes. Last year, about one hundred children in Kyrgyzstan committed suicide.
Our organization has established a large center for children who have been abused and mistreated. We organized this center in the municipality of Bishkek. School pupils, or their parents, who say that they (pupils) are thinking of suicide, turn to our center every day. Often the reason for this is a conflict between classmates. The school administration does not want to change the atmosphere prevailing in the school and does not want to see that some children are systematically harassed. To date, the education system in Kyrgyzstan cannot cope with the task it was assigned. The responsibility for issues of conflict resolution in general lies only on the education system, and local authorities, working with villagers on the ground, are evading this responsibility and are not involved in the resolution of conflicts between children and young people.
We introduced a Serbian model called the "School Without Violence" in three schools in the south of Kyrgyzstan, in the north and in Bishkek. It includes measures to ensure the security of the internal and external environment of schoolchildren. The external environment is when adults assist the school in order to protect the school from violence and school racket. To date, we have tested this model and understood that it is really needed in our schools. This year we are planning to extend the coverage of schools by this model, so there will be dozens of schools in Kyrgyzstan that will use this model.
We came to the following conclusion: in order to manage conflict in schools, there must be reconciliation services at schools. Unfortunately, our schoolchildren, as well as teachers, have fewer and fewer skills to negotiate and communicate with one another. Lack of communication skills leads to the fact that young people use force when resolving conflicts. I note that in the regions the situation is very complicated. If in Bishkek, we can somehow monitor, evaluate and regulate this situation, the regional situation is not monitored. Teenage suicides happen in villages more often, so great attention should be given to protecting the rights of children in rural areas.
Speaking about our youth activities in the rural community, first of all, it is necessary to say that we have created the Union of Mediation Centers in the north of Kyrgyzstan that involve young people. Young people told during the training that they needed to learn how to manage conflict and to understand the nature of conflict. Often young people do not understand who the actors are, what the causes of the conflict are, and how they can be adjusted. Therefore, during the past year, we held training programs. Members of the Union of Mediation Centers are graduates of the mediation school of the Institute for Public Policy, and they were trained by Irina Vigovskaya and other trainers from the Ukraine and Russia.
In order to solve conflict in everyday life, young people must make a big emphasis on training. Active young people must be trained in large numbers in Kyrgyzstan, because conflict potential has increased, but nobody paid attention to this problem. We do not have time to respond to each conflict. Therefore, we always make an emphasis on youth leaders, because they are open, they have a lot of enthusiasm, and they are interested in carrying out certain activities, and, most importantly, when young people conduct any activities on conflict prevention, they are most effective.
Also I would like to say that in critical situations, we also tried to unite the youth, in order to create people’s patrol groups. But again, our main approach to teaching young people is the principle of nonviolence. Most importantly, the youth learned how to solve problems without resorting to violence. I think this should be the main slogan for today's youth, because we often see that young people are used by other forces to gain political advantages. I would like to appeal to young people. They must be able to distinguish when they are used to achieve political goals and maintain an independent position. Thank you.
Sergei Masaulov: Colleagues, I will try to tell you three stories on this topic. Let me start from afar, but in my opinion, I will get to the point. Friedrich Hegel, a famous philosopher, was the first to start talking about the role of young people. He said: "The youth is a typical negative class, negative in the sense that they deny the social life, in which it appeared.” Youth is a group of people that seeks something that it does not yet know, and in this respect it acts as a negative class. The young deny what they have and want something else.
Trotsky liked this idea and put it at the heart of the whole revolution theory, i.e., the revolution of young people. Trotsky proposed to unite all the youth and “throw” it across to the bastions of power, and thus make a permanent revolution throughout the world.
The next supporter of this idea was Mao Zedong, who decided to directly create youth groups, and he implemented this idea through the movements of the Hóng Wèi bīng (Red Guards) and Rebels. It was Mao Zedong who, for the first time in history, implemented the idea of youth as a negative class, fully seized the power and defeated his fellow party members. That was a kind of background.
The year of 1968 in the West has shown that young people can act primarily as a negative class but cannot create anything positive. Moreover, that year made it clear that the whole system of power and organization of social life in the West is built on the principle of removing the youth from the levers of power. The principle: "Make sure that the young fit into the existing social order, but do not let them propose anything new" exists in the system of education, too. This is the first story. It shows a general crisis of modern civilization, and we see it on the current situation in the world - the crisis of certain values and ideas. So which ideas to implement now?
The second story is young people become very active and act as a negative class in those countries that do not have a clear image or, in other words, in the countries where there is a mess. Mess is always there if there are no limits. If there are no limits or frames, and people have no clear image of what should be reached, there is a mess. The first social area that is affected by this mess is education. The education system is collapsing, and people try to get education only to receive the diploma, and the most intelligent ones simply pay for it. What's the point to listen to lectures that do not serve any goal? Therefore, young people just pay for the diploma and then they settle down and adjust to social life, thus stopping their role as the negative class. We will speak about education a little bit later.
Now is the third story. The fact is that I noticed in our country today a very terrible thing. In general, I call this unpleasant process “scrapped communication.” The communication between young people is seriously scrapped today. They communicate through social networks. Direct contact associated with handshakes seems strange. Moreover, it is easier to sit face to face with some computer games and use one’s fantasy in these games. This already happens in Bishkek; it is obvious. Hence, there is a result called boredom. I happened to work with people who ended up in psychiatric institutions, and I would like to say that the main reason why people commit suicide is boredom. If you study our schools in Bishkek, almost every other student will tell you about the boredom. They are not very interested in what the school may offer them. They are trying to find their new world order, but so far they cannot find it. Boredom is a heavy thing. Young people can and should be used, and therefore politicians use it. But young people should be used only where there is a social perspective. If there is a social perspective, the country is on the rise, and youth can play a role, no doubt, but this requires certain institutions, through which the young can manifest themselves.
An ideal option is the large number of organizations dealing with specific things. Then there is a place where they can express themselves. Otherwise, the youth falls under the influence of so-called politicians, especially in a country without an image of the future. Then there is a situation about which the poet Gumilev said: "And the dead words reek." These words are scattered; they can reproduce and duplicate themselves but do not imply any specific activity. The youth is engaged in one activity - boredom. Hence my immediate conclusion for our country, including for our young people, is that young people need to work on specific projects. I would recommend one important thing: concrete projects must be posted online. Online networks are the place where the young manifest themselves and change the social order.
Irina Vigovskaya: Good afternoon, dear colleagues. I absolutely agree with Sergei Masaulov. Besides, I think that the beginning of the network has started here, last year, in the Institute for Public Policy. I was lucky to work in the project “Promotion of peaceful conflict resolution through youth”. I would like to say that the young could be different. There are young people who complain: “My god, everything is bad, we have a wrong country, a wrong President.” I was lucky to work with young people who have concrete ideas. They are working in specific projects. And these projects are still continuing. We have specific suggestions about what to do next.
The young people implemented the planned things during two months. We are monitoring how this wave will continue. After the trainings that the guys had conducted, we received positive comments, and some competences are delegated further. This shows the positive direction of everything we did before that. Naturally, not all young people who participated in our trainings completed the tasks, but almost seventy percent of them know what to do now. The guys know how to work with schoolchildren and with adults.
Today I heard how young people said that they felt offended that the older generation had brought the country to such a deplorable situation. I told them that I would not want their children to tell them the same thing in 30 years. Most probably, young people are now taking steps to ensure that Kyrgyzstan will become an economically prosperous state.
I would like to add to what Nazgul said. I can say that we are doing similar things in Kazakhstan. There is a large project to prevent child suicide, because there is a huge number of children who commit suicide, mostly schoolchildren. As practice shows, the activities held by specially trained young people in school have yielded some results. It is easier for teenagers to listen to the younger generation than the older generation, because they are in the same age criteria. So I think it's a really good start, and if it is possible to combine efforts of NGOs, it would produce amazing results.
I can tell you that yesterday and the day before, we developed specific projects, for example, a rehabilitation center for children with disabilities and children who come from orphanages, aimed at prevention of the conflicts that may arise in the future. The media and NGOs should pay attention to the fact that young people who participated in this project were very active. I say this as an independent expert. If you are looking for people who can continue to implement some projects, who already have certain expertise and skills, they are here. I do not want the project initiated by the IPP, which is completed today, to get stalled. I want very much for these young people to be engaged in social projects, because they have so many ideas, and most importantly, they are ready to implement these projects. This is not just banal investment of money. Really, these guys are very active and productive. Thank you.
Then the participants of the project "Promotion of peaceful conflict resolution through youth" made a presentation. The presentation is available on this following link.
Mirgul Karimova: I want to share my experience in the field of conflict resolution in the Jalal-Abad and Osh regions. I worked there after the conflict during seven months and wanted to share the experience, or methodology, which came to Central Asia from Ireland. We adapted this experience to our reality. We used a concept that is called "Youth Bank of Ideas." If you are from the southern part of Kyrgyzstan, you may have heard about the "Youth Bank of Ideas." This concept has already shown results, especially in border areas.
Through the peaceful resolution of social and economic problems, the young guys are united in action groups. This is a kind of network of "Youth Bank of Ideas," where young people are studying the needs of their communities. (So far, this idea is being implemented only in the south.) For example, I can say that today there are 14 active youth banks in the south who are studying their communities. They come from certain communities in certain areas. Each youth bank has about 13-14 people. They observe the principle of gender and ethnic equality. They study their community, their needs and offer their projects to local donors. Most donors are international organizations and local NGOs.
It is interesting to note that they are mostly young people from 14 to 32 years old, and they are quite active. They are mainly students and schoolchildren (high school students). Many of them work but also find time to study the needs of their communities, to write these projects and defend their projects before donors. Most often, these are short-term projects, i.e., they last from one to three months, when it comes to construction.
I think the effect is visible even now, at least, the children themselves say that it is easier to communicate with each other, and they began to work together for the benefit of each other.
I would like to spread this idea in the northern part of Kyrgyzstan. You mentioned the problems that are observed in Naryn, Talas and Issyk-Kul regions on the mining fields, where, again, young people are active mobilizers of communities. Perhaps, we could use this concept in order to implement mini-projects.
Young people often say that they lack funds. In fact the funds are there. Most importantly, the idea must be feasible and realistic. We should not start then with global problems, for example, how to make Kyrgyzstan a developed country in the short term. We must start with local problems of our own communities. This idea can be read on the internet: just type the “Youth Bank” and you will see links, videos and other material. You can visit the site www.stan.kg. They have been doing this survey. It seems to me that in fact it is time to unite and use the success, i.e., we need to test that experience in all areas.
Nuripa Mukanova: Today I came specifically to listen to young people, to see the direction in which young people are moving. Youth of our council are also involved in all sorts of training, but now I want to say something else. You have mentioned the possible causes of conflict. But if we look at them - a lack of trust in public authorities, the lack of socio-economic integration of young people, lack of the access to basic public services - we will see that corruption is one of the principal causes of everything. Unfortunately, you did not include this issue in your field of activity.
International organizations that studied in depth the causes of conflict, both of which occurred after the revolution, noted that the main cause of conflict is corruption: corruption at the top and corruption at the bottom. Young people, like our society, are in principle a part of this corrupt system. After all, no young people or our society as a whole oppose the scheme of life, which is imposed on us in the form of corruption. All these programs are, of course, excellent, but I think that if we do not resolve the issue of corruption on the level of youth, a revolutionary way of changing the society will be used again. I think the time has come for the youth to turn its attention to this area. Corruption occurs where there is no publicity and where there is legal nihilism, i.e., when people are not aware of their rights and, accordingly, cannot protect them. I think that this area is a huge field of activity for all youth organizations.
Nazgul Turdubekova: I have a request: let the young people speak about the causes of conflict in their communities. We often wonder why young people do not ask for help and solve the problem on their own.
Aibek Myrza: In your presentation, you said about the main causes of conflict among youth. But I think it's just the problems that lie on the surface. We need to look at their source. In my opinion, there are two main causes of the conflicts in Kyrgyzstan: the first is the lack of national ideology, and the second is that there are no common values.
There are no common values among the young, which they could follow. Second, there is no single political ideology, said Mr.Masaulov. Yes, we do not have a common vision.
There are various radical religious sects in Kyrgyzstan, and they all teach different values and ideologies. All this may in the future lead to a great conflict.
So, first of all, young Kyrgyz people should decide for themselves what their value orientations are. And only with shared values and a common ideology, we can resolve conflict. I think we need to work in this direction.
Sergei Masaulov: In principle, I can agree with many things, especially with the way of manifestation. Interfaith and other things of this kind are already brought in our country, and in fact, they can cause a conflict. Perhaps the creation of a national ideology will bring some results, but the fact is that ideology cannot be written. Ideology is a set of ideas that program human life when it is clear what would happen to a young man in certain number of years. At a certain age, a young man joins one organization, and in the next age, there is another organization which he joins, then it is necessary to receive higher education, then parents will arrange their future. There was a certain ideology, that is, a set of ideas.
Now the question is what ideas we have, what our motivation is. In this regard, I think the foundation must be national interests. That’s what I'm trying to say all the time. National interests are the basis for an ideological constant. When we start talking about national interests, the dispute begins; there is a very serious conflict. However, I think we need to deal with concrete things. This is what we are talking about.
The fact is that young people who are united by a certain purpose to an organization, they are automatically placed in some position, which means not just a diversity of opinions. Opinion is opinion, but the position is a goal, a certain path that leads to this goal and a reasonable relation to the goals of others and those who are close by. Why do we need to fight with others if they have other goals? Why do we not interact with them? Why cannot we live together and be called the Kyrgyz people? We need to interact with one another.
Second, if it allows us to interact and build our work without destroying the efforts to achieve the goal of our partners, I call it a movement from below. Why not to do it? All attempts of the movement from the top produced no results. It seems to me that if we do not solve the problem of energy, do not choose one of three options, which lie on the surface, and explain to people why it is necessary to take this option, and perhaps bite the bullet to pass through the difficult period, we will not move any further.
Now, with respect to corruption, of course, it is omni-present but in a sense, it is an old beautiful custom. In this regard, it is hard to fight it. Of course, when corruption implies certain mechanisms, institutions and procedures that are specifically made from above, this must be fought. However, with the grass-roots thing, without which people cannot imagine themselves, it is even more difficult to change. If you do not give something to someone, accordingly, you do not get the result for yourself. I think we need a change of certain behavioral patterns. This is a problem, including youth organizations, where people just take on an idea, and we behave differently. Very often, the country is changing due to such groups of people who instantly change the behavioral meaning of their activities.
Adil Nazarov: We are now discussing the pressing issues among young people - school racketeering, suicide among young people, lack of purpose, etc. If you ask young people: "What do you want to become in the future?" they'll say: "I do not know," because the future is uncertain. There is a well-known law of cause and effect. The problems that we have are the consequences of the above-mentioned causes.
In classical psychology, it is proved that the character of a child is formed during the five first years of life. The question arises, who educates our young people? Nursery schools, the environment and the family do. If many parents are now in Russia, leaving their children in the care of relatives and acquaintances, who educates our young people? Television and movies do. Now, probably you will not find any film in which there is no blood and cruelty. Look at these computer games. The child is actually taught to kill.
Next, take the school. Who is the authority in schools? When students talk to each other, it becomes clear that they know all the principles of the criminal world. Since the government does not enjoy respect, the criminal law is working in schools. So I would say the following: Kyrgyzstan is now in a situation where the preconditions for the emergence of an authoritarian state are formed.
In 1918, when Mustafa Kemal Ataturk created the great Turkish republic, there were exactly the same conditions. When Hitler created the Third Reich, the situation was very similar. When the government itself has become obsolete, people need a strong power, so if we do implement decisive reforms, I am afraid we can follow one of the two ways: the way of radical Islam, or the way of authoritarianism. Thank you.
Tattuububu Ergeshbaeva: Dear participants of the conference, I want to add to the above. In principle, Kyrgyzstan is one of those countries that is on the path of development.
Our target audience is young people. Of course, we must work with young people, and I agree with those recommendations that were given earlier. But it is also necessary to work with decision makers who have power in their hands. It's no secret that many politicians often use young people.
I agree with the representative of the movement "Ak Shumkar Kut" that there is no single ideology. Today, the State needs to come up with a common ideology and implement it fully.
Islambek Mursabekov: I am very pleased to attend this conference today. In your recommendations, I have not heard a word about the cultural layer. Maybe I just did not pay attention. I would like to recommend for us to study this layer, because the cultural layer is very important. Our society, our people, has done a centuries-old way, and each generation had similar problems: violation of the law, injustice, substandard living conditions, external factors, internal factors, unjust rulers, and corruption. Simply, today our society has a higher level of education, technology, and different public opinion. The same set of problems passed down from generation to generation. Why, then, have not we disappeared?
When the Constitution was not yet created, we had a traditional law, the society was based on the so-called adat (customs and traditions), and it was rested on the cultural values, attitudes and the unwritten code of laws respected by all. The code of laws was simple: respect the elders, do not hurt the younger and so on. The whole society was governed by this set of rules. The old people were behaving as the old should behave, and everybody played his social role to fulfill his functions: young men, horsemen, girls, women, baibiche (respectful way of addressing elder woman) and so on. Each had a set of functions, rights and responsibilities and appropriate behavior. This behavior existed in a traditional society for centuries, and whichever great social upheaval, war, vicissitudes or disaster happened, our people survived, and the state has been preserved.
I advise you to pay attention to this layer, because, as noted above, we need a system of values. We are now going to invent something, to write a new Constitution tomorrow, but we need to maintain and cultivate the value system that existed for centuries at the level of genetic memory. It is the key to resolving many conflicts, particularly in the village and in the family.
Irina Vigovskaya: You know, we really meant to include such things in our project. When we did the presentation, we wanted to emphasize that we must go from general things to more specific ones, to show what specific steps we can do to move from smaller to larger.
Moreover, we had a section on the inter-confessional conflicts, that is, we gave young people the information, specific tools on how to resolve such conflicts, because the resolution of inter-ethnic and political conflicts is a separate science, and it is also necessary to consider the negotiation process.
In addition, we employees from Harvard will come to me in Almaty. They are teaching the Harvard negotiation model. Then I will most likely pass the information to the IPP to address some of the nuances.
The boys have developed a specific plan, specific steps and cultural stratum, too, because we understand that cultural heritage is important. We practiced the activities when students of one nationality exchanged experiences with the students of another nationality. First, we do not want them to lose their roots, and secondly, they should know the traditions and characteristics of other nationalities, and it will pass not only from generation to generation but also from nation to nation. Maybe we did not include it globally, but we included it anyway.
Sergei Masaulov: I would like to answer the penultimate speaker. I absolutely agree with many of the provisions. We have always said that there can be no “second Switzerland,” and, in principle, there can be only Kyrgyzstan. By and large, the country is not just people living on a territory but the people united by some idea and living on that territory. That's right, we must move in this direction, but there is a catch. We cannot use only values and cultural grounds, because each person is trying to self-realize in life. Old men differ in two properties: they already have money, but they have few desires. And young people have so many desires but no money. Therefore, every young person is trying to find his place. Let me tell you about the result of one of our smaller studies in the country. It turned out that in rural areas, mothers were asked: "Whom would you like your daughter to marry?" Most of the mothers answered: “A local supervisor of LEN (Local electrical network).”
Kanat Midin uulu: Hello, dear members of today's event. I would like to say a few words. I think most of the problems in our country arise in the field of education. Most of the conflicts between the young come from the fact that there is no systematic approach.
Considering our education system, we can say that nobody cares, because the level of education that exists in the village does not meet current modern requirements. The level of education, which is available in the city, more or less corresponds to reality. If we talk about rural education level, the village is gradually sinking into the darkness of the nineteenth century. Hence, conflicts are generated.
Let's talk openly about what we see every day. For example, I often go to Issyk-Kul with friends, and not only in the summer. I see that, for example, in some districts, people use light drugs as a kind of local "currency" This poses a threat to national security. Gradually people are getting used to it, a new generation accepts it as a normal thing, and when the police tried to burn down the fields where marijuana grows, they faced strong resistance on the part of the local population.
Sergei Masaulov: Indeed, education is a very important thing, and I think it is the main sphere of the force application of the young. No doubt, it is necessary to build a new educational system. We often understand education as the process of transferring some information or knowledge. But, in fact, an educated man is the one who is able to materially reproduce himself and his family thanks to the education received. Second, a really educated person can make peace with himself. Third, he can live in peace with others; he can resolve conflicts without resorting to fratricide. And fourth, an educated man can definitely orient himself in questions of God and the Truth. If these four conditions are satisfied, the education is good, but in this respect I can say that in our country, we have many uneducated professors who cannot answer three out of four of these questions. Therefore, education needs to be improved. I think it should not be a hierarchical educational system. We just need to create some new type of educational cycles close to the existing ones but with new concepts and patterns.
Nazgul Turdubekova: Today, government agencies are still in a state of euphoria. They think they run the country and control the youth. However, in reality, every time they try to do something, they get resistance. Why? We explain to the authorities, that today the people are living their own life, and the government is all by itself. What is the government organization? There are small rooms, small groups of people, and all of them perform any administrative or regulatory functions. Every day, the government provides fewer and fewer services to people.
The quality of their service for school students is getting worse every year, and less money is allocated. I am not telling about universities, which almost completely switched to paid education. So when we say that the government should regulate the conflict, every time we make an emphasis on local self-government.
Also, we focus on activities that can help us prevent our young people from being involved in ethnic conflicts. We should help young people build communication, asking about their needs, because today's youth are abandoned by public authorities. Young people themselves are trying to solve their problems. If we want to have any relationship with the youth and somehow manage it, we need to provide services for them. Only then can we think about future policies. In this case, we will create the door through which you can enter, communicate and build some kind of dialogue. Today, in order to solve and prevent conflicts with the youth, we must open as many doors for such a dialogue as possible.
Grigory Mikhailov: I would like to make a few remarks on several comments here.
First, regarding traditions and reliance on them. Of course, the traditional layer of culture is very important and can have a significant role in maintaining the society or, on the contrary, in its destruction. Relying on the past, of course, is good, but not everything from the past makes sense in the future. You see the world is changing. The world is rapidly going into the future. If you stay in the past, relying on the tales of grandfathers and old traditions, you will simply miss the train of the future, which is rapidly going forward.
For example, there is a tradition commonly known under the name of "feeding" when a local head, the prince or khan, controls a certain territory and just makes money thanks to this territory. It existed in ancient times before Peter the Great. Once it had helped keep the country under control, but later it became one of the reasons, which destroyed the control over the country. This mentality still persists when a governor, for example, takes his post as a way to feed himself and earn money. You can see it now. It's a tradition; it is old. But do you want to carry it into the future? I do not think so. There must be a very clear choice between what is useful in the future and what makes sense to leave in the past.
Next, regarding the consistency and the gap. The fact is that the system can be built only by those who are interested in it: who have the skills, who know how to do it or can attract the right people, and those who really need to do it. Those who are working in this area now are not interested in building a coherent system. Only those who really need educated people, for example, a company director or the head of the state, will need an educated workforce for the future. You know that there are a number of large corporations who create their own training centers in order to later have educated people, whom they subsequently hire. Here, this does not exist. If you are unable to improve the education system in general, perhaps we should create the so-called think tanks and special schools with in-depth education, and not only in Bishkek but in other regions, relatively speaking, such local branches of the "silicon valley." In this case, these centers will help not only narrow circle of students but also spread the real knowledge. If you cannot cover the country, you should work at some certain districts, and it still gives the result.
I would also like to add that for young people the worst thing at the moment is unemployment and vulnerability to manipulation. Youth are a very handy tool. They ask little but they want much, and in fact they are really easy to be “bought,” especially youth leaders, and then they are easy to be abandoned. I think some of you have this experience. It is essential that we all finally leave the communist-socialist consciousness and realize that nobody will care about us except ourselves. Neither the state nor any international organization can help you build your life. They might provide help in the form of three or four bags of flour or some advice, but you are responsible for the life yourself. If you understand this, that your future, your parents and your children depend on your decisions, you will act differently. Maybe you will not sell your vote or participate in some political rallies and so on. We must rely on our own. For young people it is important to show them coherent perspectives and they can achieve certain results. Until then, until you see the prospects, some of successive steps that we have to do, young people will be without jobs and fight with one another.
Irina Vigovskaya: I would like to add. Why did we put into the presentation the idea of a business incubator? Because donors will not always be there. It is therefore important to develop young people as a business idea, as a business strategy, and start with education. It is clear that projects are one thing, and doing business is a little different. In addition, young people themselves will create jobs that will attract other young people.
Sergei Masaulov: Grigory said an interesting thing. In general, "feeding" is not only a social tradition. It is a tradition in the animal kingdom. The fact is that some of the higher animals practice it, when the largest and oldest, most often a male member, feeds his flock by force in order to dictate his own rules of life in the flock. This is a fixed thing. Read Jane Goodall van Lavik’s book "In the Shadow of Man." I can recommend a lot more books. This is a biological tradition.
As for the breakup, which has occurred in our country, every state has one of the main functions that is never mentioned - to stop the development of youth. Otherwise, young people will live in a different way. Many social institutions have this aim. But now it does not work for the simple reason that there is a huge gap between the older generation and the younger. The older generation has almost nothing to teach to the younger generation, because they lived in another world. There is a gap between two worlds. In this regard, I refer to two students in Bishkek, with whom I spoke recently. During last season, when many young people were engaged in politics, they each earned two million dollars just selling and buying goods on the Internet. They say they are now able to feed their families and will live a normal life. In this regard, they have chosen their path, not relying on any tradition.
Indira Raimberdieva: I am pleased to welcome young children. I just wanted to draw your attention to two points.
The first point is that, probably not only young people but also the whole Kyrgyzstan is now in the midst of serious value wars. So the subject of values is very topical. Perhaps, in this sense "Star Wars" are not that scary, because now, in fact, there is a struggle of various forces for the souls of men. Today, young people must first consider what values are now being exported to Kyrgyzstan. Often, we export the values of absolutely poor quality. If we take the first source of values - religion, we will find its low-grade exporters - extreme politicized Islam, Christianity and so on. The worst manifestation of it is all kinds of perverted sectarianism.
If we take a second source of values - knowledge of the secular world or those that are based on materialism - then, of course, we are speaking of worldviews that come from the West or from other countries that have certain distinct interests. In this sense, we have already passed more than one stage when we joined first Russia, then the Soviet Union, and after its collapse, the ideology of popular culture came to our country.
If we take a different source - the traditional culture of each nation, in particular, nomadic culture, the culture of this stratum is labeled as ultra-nationalism, or this layer of culture is poorly investigated.
Today, almost all of us are consumers of certain values. We just need to think about it on a personal level.
And the second thing that I wanted to pay attention to, again, is about traditional culture. The young man spoke very vehemently that we must not carry ideas of the past into the future. But the fact is that we do not know the past, and traditional culture contains a lot of completely new issues that we, unfortunately, have not studied. In particular, we have recently completed a project called "The Spirit of Action: The Tale of The Epic Manas," where we carried out neurophysiological, biochemical, psychological and biomagnetic studies on the impact of the phenomenon of tales of the epic "Manas," which is the central, unexplained, supernatural phenomenon in the Kyrgyz culture. We can say that there are very interesting results. There is a serious change in the parameters of human consciousness, that is, the person enters into an altered state of consciousness, completely changing biomagnetic indicators. It's not propaganda, but the traditional culture contains an enormous reservoir of information technology, which we do not know, and technologies related to the change of consciousness. And we can use these technologies.
And the last point I would like to mention is young people, before they go into some specific actions, need to think about what is not utilized in our own culture, not in opposition to another culture. We need to use the potential of our own nomadic culture. I agree with my colleague that the nomads have lived for thousands of years - five thousand years or more - and survived as a culture. This suggests that certain technologies of survival have been used. They just need to open a new point of view without archaisms. I'm not talking about what the young man said. The past should stay in shape of the past, but we have not disclosed the essence of many past traditions.
Erlan Kokulov: Nazgul asked how a conflict among the youth began. Yes, we are assimilating much of the West, and why not? Why not to adopt good western values? Also, you can take something good from the past.
But who will say to young people what is good or bad? You said that we have opened a number of different sects, and who tells us that this is bad? We can discuss it. We need to work with it.
The Institute for Public Policy organized a school of mediators, where we spoke about the methods of conflict resolution. After it, I conducted training sessions for students, and I can say that many children know what conflict is. Who told them? Parents tell them what children cannot do, but they do not explain how to withdraw from a conflict situation. At this point, we taught children how to pull oneself out of the conflict situation. They were told which things are bad, but even teachers were not interested in teaching each child how to leave the conflict situation.
We know that there is conflict, and a person can interfere or not interfere with the conflict. But how do you get out of the situation when you don’t want to get involved in the conflict, but the other party wants you to get involved in the conflict? Before I attended this school, I did not know about it. Now I know how to get out of conflict. We can speak about what is bad and what is good, and each has his own point of view, but who will teach? Let us begin to teach. Let's start learning from the West and from the past, and adopt only what we need. We must look for a golden balance.
Indira Raimberdieva: I think it's a great comment. The young man sees the point. If young people ask themselves such questions, everything will be fine. We must focus on personal growth and the knowledge of young people on personal growth. Exporters of these value systems accurately take into circulation our guys and impose their values, and our young people begin to live according to these values. For a young man, the pop culture, the philosophy of SpongeBob or MTV, becomes the meaning of life. Or, on the contrary, a religious person begins to believe to such a degree that if the other person does not perform religious rituals, this other man is no longer a human for the religious man. If a person does not give the system of his values any personal growth, we cannot speak of safety and security.
It should be noted that the most neutral in terms of values is a fundamental culture. The ideology is too pragmatic, and religion is too dogmatic. But the simple everyday culture and values covers four levels of relationships: man - universe, man - man, man - society, man – nature. Then the person has certain stability.
Islambek Mursabekov: Here was the question of what to borrow from the past and what not to borrow. My question is: did human vices such as greed, envy, and vanity, disappear over the past five to ten thousand years? I believe that every culture has its own system of checks and balances. In this situation, there are proven systems of checks, which we call customs.
Mirgul Karimova: I am glad that we cover all five areas in which a person must develop in order to feel a human. But I would like to point out when we talked about different cultures: the trends that are happening now in the global world. It seems to me that we must not isolate ourselves from the world. It is surprising that some structures involved in reforms adamantly refuse to learn from the experiences of other countries.
Azima Bokoshova: Maybe today I will not say anything new, and if some ideas are repeated, it is only because they are really significant. All those who expressed their opinion today say that we go through the natural process of transformation. We are talking about the transformation of society, and we are talking about the transformation of behavior. Yes, these changes in patterns of behavior are common to all countries in the space of the ex-USSR. These changes are due to the introduction of the new model, which is imposed by globalization. First of all, these changes are reflected in the fact that people, particularly young people, have new problems that have not existed when our parents were classified as youth.
Today we are talking about the role of youth in conflict resolution, but we're talking about the conflicts that arise among the youth and, above all, their prevention. As some of you have noted, there is a moment of boredom that causes problems. The solution to this could be employment, but employment is not only in terms of labor. People must be busy in a cultural sense, too. It is very important to understand that young people should feel a close relationship with the government or with the administration. For example, students should feel a close connection with school, which is not happening actually in our country. Schools now have a purely academic load, but schools must also have an education-cultural load. At this point, as many have noted, this aspect was entirely a function of television, the media and the Internet, that nurtured in young people the values of popular culture. The solution to this problem is that we need to find those responsible for it.
Today we talked a lot about ideology and corruption. We are talking about non-physical and intangible factors that affect this. But someone has to take responsibility for what is happening here, first of all, it is necessary to delineate a clear circle. Maybe it's a question for experts?
Nazgul Turdubekova: When we are working in areas where there are conflicts, we do not see that young people living there are assuming active roles. We see active young people on city squares or before the city administration buildings, but when a village has no water, there is no evidence that young people become involved. Young people, for some reason, are not interested in such issues. When there are questions of land character, issues related to corruption, youth, too, are not involved in their resolution. When we need to clean some village and take out the garbage, the youth also remain on the sidelines. Maybe this is a problem of parents who are more concerned with domestic issues. But it is precisely in this part where we need the participation of young people, because they have more energy and more time, but they do not show their active participation.
We always see that old people resent by the fact that the light is cut off, but no one has seen that youth has stated of this. Every time I ask myself: what is, then, the role of young people, if it is not applicable in the vital issues?
We have a lot of young people who use cars, and they have a lot of conflicts with the traffic police. This agency is corrupt, but the young are not engaged in solving this problem. We also wonder why there is no youth group, which could stop the arbitrariness of the traffic police in other areas, because the young people have more time, abilities and knowledge. Every time you think, what is the role of young people, if it cannot defend its rights in schools? We always deal with the young people’s complaints about the increase in tuition. I have an impression that young people are easier to deal with political issues but not with everyday problems. I want to say that the role of young people should be extended to solving daily problems.
Mira Abdyraimova: I will not go into the global theme, because conflicts arise everywhere. To resolve these conflicts, I have tried to cover various groups by special training sessions: there were schoolchildren, students and young leaders, local government workers and national minorities. Everywhere I have identified the elementary conflict causing factors. You know I saw a lot of conflict-prone communities. At this point, it would be nice if we did not discuss some global issues but would put the point and begin to cooperate and consolidate our efforts to solve problems by starting doing small things. If we begin to solve local problems, global problems will be resolved, too. Moscow was not built during one day. Let's work together and start with small things- to resolve conflicts on the ground.
Nuripa Mukanova: You talked a lot about culture, traditions, ideology and so forth. But we live in a legal society, and our behavior is governed by laws, whether they are good or bad. In this regard, there are two models that are written on paper, one of which was proposed by the Office of the President, and the second - by the parliament. In the first case, a large working group has been created for the development of the state national policy, when the parliament takes both models, adapts them and wants to make one. Professors and doctors are working on it, but the working group has not young people, i.e., your voice, your suggestions are not heard. There are no representatives of the Ministry of Youth.
I myself get into a working group. There is a faculty that is engaged in languages, philosophy, history, and there are representatives of educational institutions, there are representatives of the People's Assembly of Kyrgyzstan, but there are no young people. So I have a specific proposal: in the draft IPP or any other projects, you can make proposals to the parliament to be considered and included in the state national policy. You should also take part in discussions.
The second proposal is when we talk about corruption, all think that it is somewhere at the top. Let's see who is an ideal person for young people now. Somebody said that it could be a supervisor from the local electric network. Why? Because it's the person who checks the electricity counting devices. He can inflate the data, and the money obtained from the difference will be put in his pocket. His family lives much better compared with the other villagers. Why do young people want to work in the police department? Because they know very well that there is an opportunity to make “extra" money. That is, the image is created for young people that a corrupt official is a positive figure.
We talked about the business incubator. This is a great idea, but it will not work for us, because to create a business incubator, you need to go through a lot of instances. The police department will come to you, although it is not their competence, the tax and fire service will come, too, just to see what you are doing in the business incubator. And many other agencies will come to you. But you do not have money, so you have to bribe in order to make a business incubator. Hence you face the corruption every day. Do not think that corruption is somewhere at the top. The same is true in school. Teachers who are constantly taking gifts live better than other teachers.
Nazgul Turdubekova: I want to say that young people need to learn from adults who believe they can defeat corruption. Otherwise, it turns out that you just have to pack the suitcase and leave the country. Corruption can be defeated, and many civil society activists prove it. This can be done with conflict, and corruption is also a kind of conflict. I think that our young people need to study and watch more the positive experience of our leaders, and there are many of them in Kyrgyzstan. Young people must learn how they overcome the conflicts and become businessmen. Honest businessmen are numerous. We just do not know all their names, but you can find them and see how they were able to organize their business without paying a bribe. My advice: learn from successful people.
Sukhrobjon Ergashev: We conducted trainings, and I was a witness to a conflict. They say that politics is a dirty business. This is not true. There are "dirty" politicians. In almost all areas, we have a virus - "infected" politicians.
I think that young people have a big role in conflict resolution, because during conflict resolution, politicians can do wrong things. For example, when heads or governors or mayors of some districts are immediately dismissed in case of conflicts, the central authorities do not realize that by doing so, they lay yet another reason for conflict.
I think that young people must install "antivirus" in conflict resolution. This antivirus can only be the unspoiled youth.
Ruslan Vakhitov: I would like to share my experience. I support Sukhrobjon in regard to "dirty" politicians. In one film the main character said the following sentence: "The rules are the same, only the players change." As for corruption, it cannot be completely eliminated; it can only be reduced to a minimum.
Maksat Sarchaev: The real wealth of the nation is its people. Each of us spoke on the specifics of our work. We have reached a considerable success, and every man came with his ideas. There were very good suggestions.
Our organization is the youth center "Youth of Talas," and it is a representative of the Union of Mediation Centers in Talas. The coordinating organization is the PF " Children's Rights Defenders League” Of course, they did a great job. Irina Vigovskaya was also there. We analyzed everything that happens on the ground. In Talas, there were murders of high school students committed by other high school students. It is important to note that it should be prevented, and we must not wait until the conflict occurs. I hope very much that this meeting will give us food for reflection. Maybe after this meeting, we will exchange contact information and start to cooperate.
Indira Raimberdieva: I just wanted to bring some statistics. Those countries that have very high levels of social life, particularly Sweden, have the highest rate of suicide. I want to say that the solution to all problems will not be tied to some external manifestations or the comfort of our lives. If a young man does not live in harmony with himself, and there is no personal growth, he will be aggressive. This is only a matter of time: when a neighbor does not give him money or the water is cut off, he will be looking at this situation from the point of aggression. When a person is alright inside, he will never solve problems from an aggressive perspective.
Kanat Midin uulu: We always try to bring into a child’s mind some specific concepts that he must use all his life. All the philosophers, all great people, have claimed that one of the brakes of development are such concepts, from which we cannot get out. I think we should teach children, young people. I mean give some basic common knowledge, but they must choose themselves what is best for them. Maybe a young person wants to practice paganism, maybe he adheres to the idea of communism, but the most important thing is that he came to it consciously. It is also necessary to control radical movements, of course. But I think we should give freedom to man, so that he could make a choice.
Sukhrobjon Ergashev: I have my own motto. When I am asked where I am from, I answer that I come from Batken. I was once told that this is the end of Kyrgyzstan. I joked and replied that Batken is the beginning of Kyrgyzstan. But in fact, does Kyrgyzstan have the beginning and the end? Kyrgyzstan is one country. Also, when somebody asks me what nationality I have, it hurts me. If I am asked: "Who are you?" I reply that I am a Kyrgyzstani. That is the motto, and we must follow it in our work.
Nazgul Turdubekova: First I would like to ask, who of you has visited Batken? Who was in Talas? Probably all were in Issyk-Kul. We often work in the regions, and when I first went to Batken, I was surprised that our country was so big. Then we went to the border zone. I saw our citizens who live in very poor conditions. They have never had electric light, for example, in the village of Zardaly.
I went to Talas. There also I saw a lot of problems, and I saw the specifics which requires a cautious approach. We say that the south should use a specific approach, but the situation in Talas, too, is no less alarming. We went to Naryn, and there are also quite different living conditions and other working conditions. People are living in another dimension, for example, in Jeti-Oguz and Ak-Suu areas.
For example, in the south and the north of Issyk-Kul region, we use a completely different approach, because people who live there have quite different views. When we learn that there are conflicts, we first of all think how to solve them using an appropriate approach. The more we go to the regions, the more we expand horizons, and there is understanding of how to resolve a conflict.
If we really want to continue to build our young country, we need to go as often as possible to each other, raise issues and help each other. Only through mutual support and solidarity, it is possible to solve problems. And most importantly, I want to say that the new model of living arrangements in Kyrgyzstan depends on the youth. Older people cannot help much here. This generation saw the Soviet Union, a little bit of the transition period, but they did not go anywhere. The Internet was not there. So much hope is laid on the young people. You, the young, will show how to resolve conflicts in Bishkek, Karakol and Batken peacefully.
When you are developing some kind of a model or have reached some success, write about it. I think that if you create a new culture of relations in our country, you will change the culture that has developed now, that is, when all conflicts are solved through the use of force. We need to move away from this culture, but we need to offer another model. I think that you have a lot of work here, and you can offer a new model of conflict resolution, and we will learn from you.
Irina Vigovskaya: Thank you for your ideas. Every idea must be sounded, and perhaps there will be good results. Yes, there is an idea of culturalization and an idea that will prevent corruption, and it is a very important thing. We just wanted to show that we have developments and tools. Of course, we can only win together if we do the consolidation.
We have shown that we have the tools. If you have your own tools, share them, please. I think that it is possible to create some new anti-corruption, anti-drug tools. But we need to know out cultural heritage, too.
Most importantly, perhaps, I want to say that our problem is the support of young people. We must say: "You guys have wonderful ideas, you are sure to succeed, but let's go together." Today, we have focused on the fact that we have a generation gap. We survive in this world. Therefore, a huge request is, please, support our young people. I hope that this project will go on.
Merim Shamudinova summed up the conference.
This conference was organized within the project "Promotion of peaceful conflict resolution through youth"funded by the DFID Office in Kyrgyzstan.