Uzbekistan authorities announced today, Saturday, that they had arrested “rioters” who wanted to take over the administrative headquarters in the autonomous region of Qarqal-e-Pakhstan, which has seen rare protests against the backdrop of proposed changes to the country’s constitution.
On Friday, thousands of people demonstrated on the streets of the regional capital of the “Republic of Karqal of Bagistan” following the publication of proposals to amend the Constitution of Uzbekistan whose approval would weaken the independence of the region, knowing that a referendum will be organized on these proposals in the coming months.
Unauthorized demonstrations are prohibited by law in the former Soviet republic and on Friday the police announced a “restoration of order” in thearea in where the event took place. The government has not indicated any injuries.
Among the proposals to amend the Constitution of Uzbekistan are the abolition of the “sovereignty” of the Karakal-Pakistan region and the deprivation of the right guaranteed by the constitution to separate from Tashkent by organizing a referendum on the matter.
Uzbekistan’s interior ministry said that “following a misunderstanding over constitutional reforms”, a number of Karkalpakstan residents took part in a demonstration in its capital, Nukus, and gathered in the central market on Friday. city.
The amendments to Kirkalpakstan are only part of a broad constitutional amendment proposed by the President of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, and include strengthening civil rights and extending the presidential term from five to seven years.
On Saturday, a member of parliament and the constitutional commission, Adil Jan Tojiev, said the commission is monitoring the situation in the republic and will take into account the views expressed. via Internet.
But Togeyev said that “the instigators who tried to provoke riots do not represent the public opinion of the Qarqalbagh people.”
However, the Qarqal-e-Pakhistan authorities loyal to the central government, although the region enjoys autonomy, have taken a tougher stance.
A joint statement by the regional police, parliament and local government said that “agitators” sought to “take control of official institutions … and stir up divisions in society and destabilize political and social stability. in Uzbekistan”.
Saturday’s statement referred to “the arrest of a group of rioters and people who resisted the police,” adding: “I am in investigating them “and blaming a” criminal group “for the violence.
Internet service is intermittent in Qarqal-e-Baghestan province, located in western Uzbekistan, which has a population of around two million, noting that Uzbekistan’s total population is 35 million.
Karakalpakstan, which is located in north-western Uzbekistan and has a population of around two million, is inhabited by the Qarqal Bagak, a distinct ethnic minority with its own language.
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