Kyrgyzstan: Court bans rap song for ‘hate speech’

27 July 2012


A court in the city of Osh, where violent ethnic clashes claimed hundreds of lives in 2010, has banned an Uzbek-language rap song for promoting separatism and inciting hatred between Kyrgyz and Uzbek people.

Two years after the ethnic clashes between Uzbek and Kyrgyz residents in the city of Osh in Kyrgyzstan, which saw around 420 people killed and over 2,000 injured, several Uzbek artists have been expressing their anger against the Kyrgyz community through their charged lyrics.

The Uzbek-language song ‘Osh City Uzbek Mahala’ (‘Osh is an Uzbek Quarter’) became increasingly popular in the city. The song was transmitted among locals mainly via mobile phones, allegedly insulting the Kyrgyz community.

“According to experts from Osh State University, the content of the song incites mutual hatred and animosity between people of Kyrgyz and Uzbek nationalities,” the Prosecutor General’s Office said in a statement on 2 August 2012: “Ideas and views expressed in the song propagate intolerance of one nationality by the other and contain elements of separatism,” the statement said.

The court banned all dissemination of the song, including by internet.

Osh city police have said that they have identified the song’s author. He is an ethnic Uzbek, originally from Kyrgyzstan and now a Russian citizen. He has not been named.

Singer exiled
Since June, there have been an increasing number of accusations of so-called ‘hate speech’ in the southern parts of Kyrgyzstan.

The latest rap song has a precedent. In 2010, Akram, an underground rapper from Tashkent, released an anti-Kyrgyz song on YouTube. Set against a backdrop of photos depicting the violence in Osh, sample lyrics include: “The whole world sees who you are…the whole world hates you.”

Uzbek singer Yulduz Usmanova became popular and was embroiled in controversies after her song ‘To the Kyrgyz’ was criticised for alleged ethnicity-based lyrics. She was later sent to exile in Turkey after a fallout with the regime of Uzbek president Islam Karimov. Usmanova said afterwards that the song was from the bottom of her heart, but was released by mistake.

Allegedly in response to the provocative messages in Uzbek rap songs similar songs have been released by Kyrgyz artists, including Aaly Tutkuchev. Aaly Tutkuchev had also been responding by song to Usmanova, telling her that she was provoking hatred among ordinary people and perhaps that’s why she was forced from her homeland. Tutkuchev’s song was titled: ‘Don’t Spit into the Well That You Drink Water From’.




Image from Akram’s youtube-video


Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty – 25 July 2012:

‘Controversial Song Banned In Osh For ‘Inciting Ethnic Hatred”

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty – 13 July 2012:

‘Anti-Kyrgyz Rap Song Has Community Leaders Concerned’

Global Voices – 12 July 2012:

‘Kyrgyzstan: Rap Song Stokes Ethnic Hostility on Anniversary of Clashes’

Songs on YouTube

Akram’s anti-Kyrgyz song from 2010:

‘Акром – Ифлослигини корвотти дун’ё’

Aaly Tutkuchev’s response by song to Usmanova:

‘kyrgyz music Аалы Туткучев – Булгаба ичкен кудукту’

Yulduz Usmanova’s song ‘To The Kyrgyz’:

‘Yulduz Usmonova – Qirg Izlarga’

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