Central Asia is a politically complex region, as each of its five countries significantly differs in terms of political, economic, and social development. However, human rights and freedom of expression are under threat in all of them. Repressive legislative initiatives aimed at tightening control over the media and civic space, along with repeated attacks on journalists, human rights defenders, and critics of the authorities, are common to all countries in the region. Even in Kyrgyzstan, the situation is deteriorating; this is concerning as Kyrgyzstan has traditionally been considered relatively free compared to other countries in the region.
We have been working in Central Asia since 2016. We support human rights defenders, lawyers, activists, and civil society members in the region with direct psychological, legal, and medical aid, as well as providing mini-grants. In addition, we facilitate training and capacity-building activities for media and NGO teams. Our aim is to equip them with the necessary tools and skills to maintain resilience in the face of increasing risks. We also assist with emergency relocation for activists at a particularly high risk of persecution.
Furthermore, we run the Emerging Leaders Fellowship (ELF) for young community leaders from the region. It is a ten-week program in Prague that focuses on refining soft skills and promoting leadership.
Over the past two years, under our Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) programme, we assisted over 150 journalists and human rights defenders in the region. Additionally, we have processed more than 30 direct aid requests and small grant applications.
In 2019, the Homo Homini Award was presented to Tajik lawyer Buzurgmehr Yorov, for his dedication to defending human rights and ensuring due process in Tajikistan. This award was given at our International human rights film festival One World. We present the Homo Homini Award annually to acknowledge individuals and organisations worldwide for their remarkable contributions to the defence of human rights and democracy.