Urkuya Salieva (1910-1934)
While walking along the Chui street, at the very center of Bishkek, you might notice a beautiful monument of Urkuya Salieva rising majestically in the middle of a rose decorated park. Urkuya Salieva fought for the freedom and equality of women during the formation of Soviet power. Saliyeva is known for her struggle for girls’ rights to education in the early years of Soviet Union and has became a symbol for modern women’s rights movements in Kyrgyzstan. Different movements regarding the equality of women, usually organise their marches and demonstrations to pass or start the march here. Recent marches include a march for the memory of Burulai and a requiem for Kyrgyz migrants who died in Moscow.
Urkuya Salieva was born into the family of a poor peasant on February 17, 1910, in the village of Besh-Burkan (today Taktek), in the Osh region. Despite being an Eastern woman growing up in a patriarchal world at a time when women’s rights were undermined, she proved that women have a right to a voice. Fragile, but strong in spirit, Urkuya fought for freedom, defended the rights of the poor and called for work and unity. She believed in a bright future for the common Kyrgyz people. Four years later she joined the Communist Party and became a member of the Central Executive Committee of the Kyrgyz Autonomous Republic. Additionally, she was elected as the chairperson of the collective farm Kyzyl-Asker (later named after Urkuya Salieva) and was part of the Chui Avenue foundation. Salieva and her husband were murdered in 1934, at the age of 24 by Basmachi fighters, who were part of the anti-Bolshevik movement which at the time had control over large parts of Southern Kyrgyzstan in the years.
There is a film from 1971 called “Poklonis Oglyu” (“Поклонись огню” – roughly translated to “Bow to the Fire”) in which Tattybubu Tursunalieva plays the short life of Urkuya Salieva. Roza Otunbayeva (former president of the Kyrgyz Republic) told: “Urkuya was one of those personalities who lead people during great historical changes. She was a prominent representative of modern times. As the first woman to chair a collective farm and a member of the Central Executive Committee, she had a significant impact on the historical events of that time. Her activities were like news, events for the people. I would like to play the role of our girls, women to be as strong-willed, decisive as Urkuya in achieving their goals, an active role in society to promote democratic values.”
Page updated 8.3.2021