A court docket in Bukhara has sentenced lawyer and journalist Dauletmurat Tazhimuratov to 16 years in jail. Journalist Lolagul Kallykhanova acquired an 8-year “restricted liberty” sentence, which RFE/RL characterised as “parole-like.” Of the 22 folks charged within the case, associated to the unrest that broke out in Karakalpakstan’s capital final summer season, 16 had been sentenced to jail phrases between three years and Tazhimuratov’s 16.
The protests in Karakalpakstan, an autonomous republic inside Uzbekistan, had been sparked final summer season after the Uzbek authorities unveiled proposed adjustments to the nation’s structure which, amongst different issues, would have altered Karakalpakstan’s standing and rights. In early July protests broke out within the area’s capital, Nukus.
As Ildar Daminov defined in an article for The Diplomat in early July 2022:
[The proposed change regarding the political status of Karakalpakstan] signifies that the present political and authorized standing of Karakalpakstan can be downgraded to that of a mere province. The proposed amendments would delete the phrase “sovereign” when mentioning Karakalpakstan, deprive Karakalpakstan of the correct to secede, and require that the Karakalpak authorized paperwork be in line not solely with the Uzbek Structure but in addition with the legal guidelines of Uzbekistan. By making such drastic and sweeping adjustments, the Uzbek authorities shot itself within the foot.
Tazhimuratov and Kallykhanova publicly referred to as for a “no” vote ought to such a referendum come. Tazhimuratov reportedly stated in an audio recording that made the rounds on social media that he would “personally [go] to a peaceful and legal rally” to demand a referendum on secession from Uzbekistan of such amendments had been authorized.
On July 1 Tazhimuratov was detained. He’d referred to as on folks to attend a July 5 rally in Nukus. As a substitute, giant crowds gathered on July 1 and a pair of. Though Tazhimuratov was launched on July 1, he was detained once more the following day. Throughout the unrest, the Uzbek authorities severed the area’s web, obscuring the occasions within the distant area. Amid the federal government’s effort to suppress the protests, 21 folks had been reportedly killed, 4 of them members of the safety companies.
Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev flew to Nukus on July 2 and introduced that the proposed constitutional adjustments relating to Karakalpakstan can be faraway from the drafts.
Within the ensuing months, Tazhimuratov was framed by the federal government as the primary organizer of the unrest that rocked Nukus. Mirziyoyev at one level additionally instructed nefarious and unnamed “foreign forces” had been concerned. For many observers, nonetheless, it was Tashkent’s fumble that kicked off the unrest.
The protests in Karakalpakstan had been an “unforced error on the part of the government,” Jennifer Brick Murtazashvili, of the College of Pittsburgh’s Middle for Governance and Markets, told The Diplomat last July. Yuriy Sarukhanyan advised openDemocracy that in springing such monumental constitutional adjustments on Karakalpakstan with out prior public dialogue, the Uzbek authorities “created problems where there were none.”
The federal government’s crackdown on the protests was harsh. Human Rights Watch issued a report in November 2022 noting that Uzbek safety forces “unjustifiably” used deadly power to disperse usually peaceable demonstrators on July 1 and a pair of in Karakalpakstan. And as Eurasianet, which has coated the trial from Bukhara over the previous few months, famous: “No police or National Guard officers are yet known to have been investigated for how they acted in quashing the Nukus protests.”
As a substitute, the heaviest sentence fell on Tazhimuratov.
The trial was notably open, although not with out restrictions. Days after Tazhimuratov complained in court docket of being tortured, the choose ordered a video feed of the proceedings to be minimize. And whereas an impartial fee was shaped to analyze the occasions, many observers have famous the extensive berth it has given to the authorities themselves, as an alternative specializing in the civilians arrested by the state.
In the meantime, the constitutional referendum that triggered the unrest was delayed and little mentioned within the months after the unrest in Nukus. In December 2022, nonetheless, RFE/RL’s Uzbek service, Radio Ozodlik, reported that the referendum can be scheduled for after the Nowruz vacation, which in 2023 falls on March 21 and 22. The adjustments to Karakalpakstan’s standing won’t be included, however it’s clear from the end result of the trial that Tashkent’s guidelines reign supreme within the autonomous republic.