Staunton, October 18 – Approximately 100 Karakalpaks demonstrated against Uzbekistan’s rule of their republic four days ago. The Uzbek authorities immediately arrested 30 of them, but not before the protesters sent abroad photographs of their action and an appeal to the United Nations calling for the international body to intervene on their behalf.
The demonstrations and the appeal were organized by activists in the Shirq-2014 movement, which is committed to the independence of the republic from Uzbekistan and cooperates with the Karakalpak government in exile led by Amanbay Sagidullayev (algakarakalpakstan.com/).
This is the first Karakalpak protest since Tashkent installed a security officer as the republic’s new head (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2020/10/tashkent-installs-security-officer-as.html) and first major one since new oil fields were found on the bed of the former Aral Sea (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2020/04/will-new-oil-fields-in-aral-sea-basin.html).
That discovery has prompted renewed interest in a region by Kazakhstan which used to include Karakalpakistan and the Russian Federation and increasingly harsh defensive measures against any activism by the Uzbekistan government. Tracking moves about this is extremely difficult because of the information blockade Tashkent has thrown over the republic.
It is even more difficult to track indigenous dissent. There are no independent media outlets in Nukus, and the only sources are either émigré independence groups like Alga Karakalpakstan or Tashkent, both of which have their own reasons for either overstating or understating problems there.
But the latest report about protests, precisely because it includes video footage and a dated document, appears completely credible and suggests that the situation in a place few have paid much attention to in recent years may now be heating up again and even set to explode, Uzbek repressive measures notwithstanding.
For background on the Karakalpak national movement and its travails, see windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/10/karakalpak-activists-charge-tashkent.html, windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2017/11/karakalpaks-appeal-to-putin-to-back.html, windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2015/06/karakalpak-separatists-in-uzbekistan.html, windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2014/11/window-on-eurasia-moscow-again-focusing.html, windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2014/06/window-on-eurasia-tashkent-cracks-down.html, windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2014/05/window-on-eurasia-some-karakalpaks-now.html, and windowoneurasia.blogspot.com/2010/12/window-on-eurasia-karakalpak-separatism.html.
Window on Eurasia — New Series