Staunton, July 6 – Central Asian human rights activists, both in their own countries and in emigration both in other parts of that region and further abroad, have issued a joint appeal condemning Tashkent’s harsh suppression of the Karakalpak protests against a proposed constitutional change that would have eliminated Nukus’ right to pursue independence.
The appeal “strongly condemns all forms of violence against civilians, the use of excessive force by the authorities to suppress the conflict instead of conducting in-depth and meaningful dialogue, arbitrary arrests and torture, and restrictions on rights of citizens to lgain access to information” (freedomeurasia.org/обращение-гражданского-общества-цен/).
More striking than this condemnation is that 29 Karakalpak, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, and Tajik activists signed it. There were none from Uzbekistan where the violence occurred and none from Turkmenistan, the most repressive country in the region and one of the most repressive in the entire world. They roughly divided between those in their own countries and those living abroad.
The appearance of such an appeal and the range of signatories to it highlights the growth of human rights activism among Central Asians both at home and abroad, a phenomenon that has seldom attracted the attention it deserved as a measure of how far some of the countries in the region have come and how far some of the others have yet to do so.