But in a country where ethnic identity, linguistic nationalism and patriotic fervor have grown stronger since ethnic violence in 2010, the question of relocation is easily politicized, and Kyrgyz-language media coverage of the diaspora in Afghanistan is emotionally charged.
Kyrgyz Butagy’s own promotional video appeals to such heightened sentiments, bringing attention to the poor command of the Kyrgyz language among some children in Little Pamir, where a single school teaches students in Dari. “If a people lose their language, they will lose their nation,” the video cautions.
While life for the Afghan Kyrgyz remains harsh, arguments for relocating the two groups – with or without a plan for their integration – will continue to be compelling. The authors of Kyrgyz Butagy’s promotional brochure quote a tearful plea to the Kyrgyz people from Urkiya, a Little Pamir Kyrgyz woman: “We are dying out here, swallowing dust and seeing nothing but our yaks. Please take us from here,” she said.