A Campaign to Avoid Hate Speech
is Launched Ahead of Local Elections in Kyrgyzstan
Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) jointly with the Public foundation “Civic Platform” launched a Hate Speech Campaign in Kyrgyzstan in the run up to the April local elections. The campaign is conducted within the frames of the Media Dialogue project funded by European Union and aims at preventing and countering the use of hate speech. The campaign will target candidates to city councils, the legal community, media, CSOs, and youth groups.
Election campaigns provide particularly fertile ground for hate speech and incitement to hatred. Political parties, candidates, other opinion makers, and members of civil society are among influential spreaders of hate speech. Also, the power and amplifying effect of the media, in particular social media, carries significant weight. According to ARTICLE 19, “Hate Speech is an emotive concept, and there is no universally accepted definition of it in international human rights law. Many would claim they can identify Hate Speech where they see it, but the criteria for doing so are often elusive or contradictory. As such Hate Speech can be seen in any expression imparting opinions or ideas – bringing an internal opinion or idea to an external audience. It can take many forms: written, non-verbal, visual, artistic, etc., and may be disseminated through any media, including internet, print, radio, or television.”
The Hate Speech Campaign kicked off with the analysis of legislation related to the issue of the use of hate speech and incitement to hatred in the beginning of March. On March 17, a round table discussion on preventing and countering the use of hate speech in the run up to the April local elections took place. Participants included experts from the Central Election Commission, from the legal community, linguists, as well as representatives of media and CSOs. This discussion created a platform for experts to come to a common understanding of the definition of hate speech in the Kyrgyzstani context, of the actions to be taken as well as recommendations on how to work and raise the awareness among political candidates on hate speech and positive measures to promote more tolerant speech.
A series of online discussions are taking place with the youth groups, including youth activists, bloggers, and lawyers from southern and northern regions to discuss hate speech practices and develop an open appeal to avoid hate speech and use a more tolerant language by political parties and candidates during local kenesh elections. In parallel, online discussions with the candidates to city councils from 21 cities will be conducted to reduce hate speech practices during the pre-election campaign.
Photo: @ PF “Civic Platform”