In rare protests in the Autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan in Uzbekistan, civilians clashed with security forces on Sunday. There were casualties on both sides, Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev reported. At least five people have been killed, according to an opposition member in exile. Another government official previously said that thousands of people have been hospitalized.
The protests took place in the city of Nukus, the capital of the Republic of Karakalpakstan in northwestern Uzbekistan. On Friday, the protests started and gradually got bigger. Earlier this weekend, a state of emergency was declared in the autonomous region.
In a statement, President Mirziyoyev said rioters had carried out “destructive actions”. Protesters allegedly threw rocks, set fires and attacked police, Mirziyoyev said.
The demonstrations are directed against plans to make constitutional changes that would jeopardize the autonomous status of Karakalpakstan. Karakalpakians are an ethnic minority with their own language. Mirziyoyev has announced that he will withdraw some of the plans.
In the former Soviet country, the government is cracking down on any form of opposition. Mirziyoyev has already been re-elected president. He should retire after his current term. However, the constitutional amendments he plans to make would allow him to serve another two terms as president.