Saturday, March 23, 2024

Kazakhstan Arrests More Karakalpak Activists But Isn’t Deporting Them to Uzbekistan

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Mar. 19 – Karakalpakstan, a Muslim Turkic autonomous republic in Uzbekistan that was once part of Kazakhstan, continues to present problems for both countries with Kazakhstan serving sometimes as a place of refuge when Tashkent represses the Karakalpaks and Kazakhstan as an uncertain one because Astana does not want to spark a conflict with Tashkent.  

            In the past, Karakalpaks fleeing Uzbek repression have expected to find a home with the Karakalpak community in Kazakhstan only to be arrested and deported. But following international criticism and a decision by the European Human Rights Court condemning such actions, Astana stopped the deportations.

            More recently, after the mass protests in Karakalpakstan in 2021 and 2022 against Tashkent’s repression led to the arrival of more and more radical Karakalpaks in Kazakhstan, Astana has taken a harder line, arresting more Karakalpaks, pleasing Tashkent, but not deporting them, avoiding angering the West (

            However, this new toughness frightens Karakalpaks in Kazakhstan, many of whom had viewed Kazakhstan as a second homeland and even believed that it might be possible for their home republic to escape Uzbekistan and form close ties with or even become part of Kazakhstan. The new arrests likely put a damper on any such thinking.

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