Uzbekistan says 18 killed, hundreds wounded in Karakalpakstan unrest
Moscow, July 4 (EFE).- At least 18 people were killed and 243 injured in unrest in the autonomous Uzbek republic of Karakalpakstan, the authorities said on Monday.
“Eighteen people died as a result of the of serious injuries received during massive disorders,” Abror Mamatov, an official from the General Prosecutor’s Office, said in a virtual news conference.
The Uzbek National Guard said police arrested 516 people during the demonstrations over the weekend.
The prosecutor’s office has opened criminal proceedings for “attempting to subvert the constitutional order,” a crime punishable by up to five years in prison.
The federal government on Sunday imposed a month-long state of emergency in Karakalpakstan – the autonomous northwestern province that was rocked by deadly demonstrations over a planned constitutional reform.
The constitutional amendments proposed by the Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev aim to quash the region’s sovereign status and its right to split from Uzbekistan through a referendum.
The president has now dropped the plan to calm the tensions after massive protests.
He also proposed reinforcing civil rights and extending the presidential term from five to seven years, which would allow Mirziyoyev to run again despite already having served two consecutive terms.
Mirziyóyev visited the regional capital Nukus over the weekend to announce the withdrawal.
“Taking into account the unique ethnic and cultural characteristics, national traditions and values, special legal status of Karakalpakstan, emphasized the need to leave the norms of the legal status of the republic (…) unchanged. The constitution will remain unchanged,” the president noted.
The autonomous republic of Karakalpakistan, with a population of almost two million people and two official languages, Karakalpak and Uzbek, is the largest but the fourth-least populated region of the Central Asian country.
Lying along both the Aral Sea and the Amu Darya delta, Karakalpakstan is home to the ethnic minority Karakalpaks who are closely allied to the Kazaks. EFE