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Suppressing Karakalpakstan’s Sovereignty

Suppressing Karakalpakstan’s Sovereignty
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Two years have passed since violence erupted in western Uzbekistan’s Karakalpakstan Sovereign Republic. In early July 2022, Uzbek law enforcement personnel used stun grenades and tear gas to disperse thousands of Karakalpaks gathered in a peaceful protest in the Karakalpak capital, Nukus, over proposed changes to Uzbekistan’s constitution that would have stripped Karakalpakstan of its nominal status as a sovereign republic and right to conduct a referendum to secede from Uzbekistan. Officially, 21 people were killed, most of them protesters. Since then, Uzbek authorities have imprisoned dozens of Karakalpaks, and Karakalpak activists located in other countries are also facing pressure. Joining host Bruce Pannier to discuss the topic are Leila Nazgul Seiitbek, a lawyer and chairwoman of the NGO Freedom for Eurasia; Hugh Williamson, the Europe and Central Asia director of Human Rights Watch; and Mynaim, a pseudonym for a Karakalpak activist living outside Uzbekistan. (Note: Mynaim’s comments have been voiced over to protect her identity, family, and friends in Karakalpakstan.)