Kyrgyzstan has amended a range of laws that ensure simplified order of receiving weapons by civilian population residing in border areas and voluntary mobilization. Experts, however, says it means the recognition of the state of its inability to protect its borders.
CABAR.asia notes that the latest amendments to the laws simplify the order of getting the permit for purchasing and bearing hunting rifles for residents of border areas of Kyrgyzstan. They reportedly need neither experience of using rifles, nor membership in hunting organizations.
Moreover, the new term is introduced to the law “On Mobilization” – volunteer detachments, and voluntary mobilization is envisaged. It means that any citizen of Kyrgyzstan who is above 18 years old may volunteer to register for military service.
President has now expanded powers to announce mobilization. Now he does not need to agree it with the parliament, he can make the decision on his own, and no martial law needs to be declared. The head of state also has powers to lead mobilization.
Another change is that during mobilization, residents must hand over their personal vehicles and property to the military upon request. Previously, it was possible only in case of martial law.
Moreover, new amendments remove a range of requirements to get the status of border envoy, including clean record and military background, and expand their rights.
The law that permitted to involve civilians to protection of borders during emergencies was first passed with the then President Almazbek Atambayev on March 3, 2015. The newly appeared term “border envoys” means nationals of Kyrgyzstan residing or working in border areas and having military background.
New amendments to the law “On Border Envoys” remove a range of requirements, which apply to all those who want to get this status. Previously, the requirements were military background, no criminal record certificate, domicile or work in border areas. Now, it is enough to hold a Kyrgyz passport, provide a certificate of no psychic disorders, and take 14-day training.
Meanwhile, some Kyrgyz experts in security note that simplified access to firearms to the unprofessional category of people could lead to deplorable consequences.
According to them, the culture of civil defense should be improved instead of arming the population.
Some other experts, however, consider that involvement of local residents in border protection may be an effective measure, they could be convened promptly and they know the terrain.
Since 2010, Kyrgyzstan reportedly had 363 border conflicts registered with all neighbors – Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, China and Kazakhstan.
Meanwhile, MP Ulan Bakasov has drafted the amendment to the law “On Assigning a Special Status to Particular Border Areas of Kyrgyzstan and Their Development” in addition to the already parliament-adopted package of amendments. Particular areas of Batken, Osh and Dzhalal-Abad regions have this status now. The legislator offers to permit the residents of these regions who are older than 20 to store and bear arms, and to use it to protect their life, health and property. It is provided that persons who are permitted to use weapons must pass training and test for their knowledge of gun safety rules. The instrument has passed the stage of public discussions, but has not been reviewed by the parliament yet.
In Tajikistan, such measures of Kyrgyzstan reportedly raise fears. So far, no formal messages about arming the Kyrgyzstanis in border regions have been made. However, some media make publications, where they say about “the unwillingness and lack of interest” of some Kyrgyz politicians in peaceful resolution of conflicts due to already approved and upcoming amendments. And the government mouthpiece Jumhuriyat wrote that “this initiative can give rise to new conflicts and new bloodshed”.
The border between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan is about 970 kilometers long and runs from the tripoint with Uzbekistan to the tripoint with China.
As far as Tajikistan’s common border with Kyrgyzstan is concerned, it has been the scene of unrest repeatedly since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
In the latest border clashes between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan that occurred on September 14-17, both sides reportedly lost over 100 people both military population and ordinary citizens. During fierce armed confrontations, a lot of schools, mosques were destroyed in addition to the houses of civilians; administrative buildings were also attacked by fire.
According to border residents, the conflict erupted on September 14 between the Tajik and Kyrgyz border guards and subsided and flared up intermittently for three days.
The latest armed confrontation was the worst since April 2021, when over 50 citizens of both nations died during the armed hostilities.
It has been difficult to demarcate the Tajik-Kyrgyz border because over the course of some 100 years Soviet mapmakers drew and redrew the border, incorporating land that had traditionally belonged to one people in the territory of the other Soviet republic. Exclaves appeared and temporary land use agreements were signed.
All of this survived the collapse of the Soviet Union and people in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have various Soviet-era maps they use to justify their claim to specific areas along the border.
Border talks between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan began in 2002. The border delineation problem has led to conflicts between rival ethnic communities.
To-date, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have held more than 170 meetings and negotiations on delimitation and demarcation of the common border.
Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov said in an exclusive interview with Kabar news agency on April 25 that “the parties have agreed on 600 kilometers [of the mutual border] and they have another 300 kilometers left to delimit and demarcate.”