In Memoriam Kazat Akmatov 1941 – 2015

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Prominent Kygyz writer and friend of Silk Road Media, Kazat Akmatov, who co-chaired the Kyrgyzstan Democratic Movement patry in the 1990s, died on 13th September 2015 at home in Kyrgyzstan at the age of 73.

Born in 1941 in the Kyrgyz Republic under the Soviet Union, Akmatov had first -hand experience of extreme political reactions to his work, which was deemed anti-Russian and anti-communist and resulted in censorship. Akmatov was a gifted storyteller, whose writing was imbued with a passion for his homeland and concern over the oppression of his people. His determination to fight for basic human rights in oppressed countries led him to play an active and prominent role in the establishment of the Democratic Movement of Kyrgyzstan. Even in the post-Soviet era, he continued, through his writing, to highlight the many problems faced by the Central Asian countries.

Although he has written many books, his book “Thirteen Steps Towards the Fate of Erika Klaus” was translated into English and published by Hertfordshire Press in 2013. It was written in Russian in 2007 and concerns the recent past of 1995, telling the story of a naïve Norwegian girl who volunteers to teach English in a remote Kyrgyz village within the vicinity of a frontier military outpost that ultimately leads to her shocking demise.

“Munabiyya” was Akmatov’s second book to be translated into English and published by Hertfordshire Press in 2014. It tells of two love stories set in rural Kyrgyzstan, where the natural environment, local culture, traditions and political climate all play an integral part in the dramas that unfold. Akmatov presents an interesting insight into a rural community, the power relations between men and women, and a gripping human drama.

Writer and Diplomat, Chingiz Aitmatov, once said of Akmatov, “Despite being prohibited from publishing under Soviet rule, Kazat Akmatov never gave up, and through his writing, takes his own stance on highlighting the need to protect the rights and liberties of small nations from the powers that be. His novels thus focus on the life and fate of oppressed colonial peoples, including Kyrgyz, Tibetans and Chechens, who have been seeking their freedom and independence for centuries.”

Open Central Asia’s Editor-in-Chief, Nick Rowan, who met Akmatov on his last visit to London said, “We are deeply saddened to learn of Kazat Akmatov’s passing. His drive and determination to get his important messages across through his writing, irrespective of the huge personal risk to himself, are contributions we should admire, respect and follow.”

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