Hundreds of people are still in detention in Uzbekistan after deadly unrest this month in the republic of Karakalpakstan over a proposal to strip the region of its autonomous status, a rights group said.
Fourteen protesters and four law enforcement officers were killed in the violence, the authorities have said, blaming it on unspecified “foreign forces.” It was the deadliest unrest since 2005 in the Central Asian country, a former Soviet republic.
A state of emergency in Karakalpakstan, which entailed a curfew and limited online connectivity, ended early on Thursday after Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev decided to lift it almost two weeks ahead of schedule.
Open Dialogue Foundation (ODF), a European-based human rights group, said more than 300 of the 367 people who were detained during the unrest remained behind bars as of July 20.
ODF researcher Lyudmyla Kozlovska also said dozens of people were still missing. The Uzbek Prosecutor General’s office this week dismissed a list of missing persons published by ODF as incorrect.
The authorities have not said how many people remained in detention.
Following the protests, Mirziyoyev ordered his government to drop plans to revise Karakalpakstan’s legal status as part of a constitutional reform.
On Thursday, the President reiterated the official stance on the unrest, telling a meeting of fellow Central Asia leaders that the unrest “confirmed the existence of destructive forces who are trying to derail our plans, sow chaos and instability in our region.”