The Troublesome Road of Freedom in Kyrgyzstan (The Popular Liberation Uprising in 1916)
(45th Meeting of the PIAC, Budapest 2002)
The Tsarist Russia of the 19th century was forced to cover up the complication of socio-economic situation within the country, the discontent on behalf of various groups amongst the population and the efforts of certain groups to take over in power by intensifying the level of external migration. The situation has activated aggressive politics of the Tsarist power and thus the aim to conquer the lands towards India — originally identified by Peter I — was successfully implemented. To the territories that were already conquered, such as Kazan, Astrakhan, Siberia and Caucasus, now a new aim was added — to colonize Central Asia. Since 1825 various expeditions were sent out to the Kyrgyz land, and that included spying, search and observation purposes. These expeditions ended with subordination of Kyrgyzstan to Russia in 1876. The local population, having previously participated in the fight to bring down the power of the Qoqan Khanate, had raised expectations from the Russian Tsarist authorities. However, the promises made, such as ownership of land, secured traditions, no obligation to serve in the Tsar’s army, peace in the communities, freedom to the poor, no violence, no interference in elections, were never reinforced. Forty years of living under such inequality was the main reason that the popular uprising in 1916 took place. The Tsar’s sudden order to mobilize the army for military purposes had caused the aggravation of people’s already burning discontent. Unexpected issue of the Order, lack of any explanatory work on its purposes and terms, unfairness and insufficiency to solve people’s issues on the part of the representatives of local power system, all these caused the wide spread of the uprising, as well as the massacre of the population and the punishment of innocent people. This civil uprising of people, who strove for securing their natural right to social rights, to land, to language, to religion, to national customs and traditions, ended with merciless aggression by the punishment groups and regular military forces of Tsarist Russia. This bloodshed sacrificed the lives of 40% of Kyrgyz population — one of the ancient representatives of nomad life — and ended with a significant loss for the civilization of the world’s nomads. However, that is a different theme for discussion. We shouldn’t forget that resistance between the state power and people may bring to severe misery, if not dealt properly on time, as was the bloody period of 1916 in Kyrgyz history.