Fatalities, More Than 1,000 Injuries Reported In Karakalpakstan Unrest
By RFE/RL July 03, 2022
Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev acknowledged that there have been fatalities among security personnel and civilians during unrest in Karakalpakstan, the Central Asian nation's restive autonomous republic, with another report saying that more than 1,000 people had been injured in the turmoil.
In a speech reported by his press office on July 3, Mirziyoev did not provide numbers or details of deaths or injuries during protests ignited by his plans, now dropped, to make constitutional changes to weaken the autonomous republic's status.
"Unfortunately, there are fatalities among civilians and law-enforcement officers," Mirziyoev said, according to his press office.
Accurate information is difficult to obtain from the region, with locals reporting that Internet and phone services have been severely limited and a state of emergency restricting movement.
In an online statement, Mirziyoev said protesters had taken "destructive actions" in Nukus, the regional capital, throwing stones, starting fires, and attacking law-enforcement personnel.
Uzbek news website Daryo.uz quoted Sultanbek Ziyayev, head of Karakalpakstan's Ministry of Health, as saying that Nukus hospitals were full of patients who had been hurt in clashes with police.
"Many of the wounded were hospitalized and are being treated. They are being provided with medical care," he said.
The news site quoted a ministry official as saying that "more than 1,000 of [the protesters] were injured in the riots." It was not clear if Ziyayev was the ministry official being quoted in that statement.
Reuters earlier quoted Pulat Ahunov, an exiled opposition politician, as saying that his contacts with local sources and video evidence indicated that at least five people had been confirmed dead, but he added it was feared dozens more had been killed.
Protests broke out in Nukus and other cities after changes initiated by Mirziyoev were proposed on June 27 to the Uzbek constitution, including removal of language that guaranteed the right of Karakalpakstan to seek independence should citizens choose so in a referendum.
But during a visit to Karakalpakstan on July 2, Mirziyoev backed off the plans and said the language would not be removed from the constitution.
Uzbek authorities on July 2 declared the month-long state of emergency in areas of Karakalpakstan, a northwestern region spanning some 167,000 square kilometers with a population of about 2 million, split nearly evenly among ethic Uzbeks, Kazakhs, and Karakalpaks.
In the next few months, Uzbekistan plans to hold a referendum on the changes to the constitution, which also include language that would allow Mirziyoev to run for office for another two terms.
With reporting by RFE/RL's Uzbek Service, AFP, and Reuters
Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/uzbek-president- fatalities-karakalpakstan-protests/31926986.html
Copyright (c) 2022. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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