19 February 2023
On 31 January this year, after more than two months of court hearings, the first instance court finally issued a verdict to 22 defendants on the Karakalpakstan case. To remind, this case concerns the protests that took place in Nukus on the 1st and the 2nd of July, 2022, which were provoked by the Uzbek government’s intention to remove the constitutional norms that guarantee Karakalpakstan’s sovereign status within Uzbekistan and its right to secede from the country if the majority of republic’s residents vote in favour of this in a referendum. According to official data, 21 people died while the protests were being suppressed by law enforcement bodies and National Guard units, but independent sources put the number of fatalities at least 77. Our previous analysis of the charges against protest leaders Dauletmurat Tajimuratov and Lolagul Kallykhanova proved that the indictment was politically motivated, unlawful, biased, and absurd. With little hope that Uzbekistan’s justice system would act independently, we called on the Uzbek authorities to issue a just decision, which would mean acquitting all or most of the defendants. Did the authorities hear our call?
(This article was first published by the Anti-Discrimination Centre ‘Memorial’ on the 7th of February 2023).