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Detained in Astana: Karakalpak activist detained, but exact whereabouts unknown


On the 26th of March, another Karakalpak activist has been detained in Astana at the request of Uzbek authorities. 31-year old Rasul Zhumaniyazov is a Karakalpak activist.

Aman Sagidullayev, an ethnic Karakalpak residing in Norway and leader of the Alga Karakalpakstan political movement, stated that Zhumaniyazov contacted him to report receiving calls from the Uzbekistan National Security Services, demanding his return to Uzbekistan. Previously detained and beaten by Uzbek forces in 2021, sought refuge in neighbouring Kazakhstan where continued his online activism.

While it is still unclear on what charges they have detained him for, Sagidullayev reported that Zhumaniyazov’s legal documents permitting his stay in Kazakhstan had expired. He intended to renew them through the migration service but was subsequently detained. The Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights has involved itself and is providing legal assistance. However, at present, the whereabouts of Zhumaniyazov remain unknown, raising suspicions that he may have been handed over to Uzbek authorities—an act that would be illegal under international law.

Not an uncommon occurrence, six other Karakalpak activists have previously spent a year in detention centres in Kazakhstan at the request of Uzbek authorities. One of which, Akylbek Muratov, is still imprisoned in Almaty and facing extradition for up to a year.

Increasingly alarming is the unknown whereabout of Zhumaniyazov. A continuation of the violent crackdown by Uzbek authorities on Karakalpak activists and dissent since the July 2022 protests, its reach extends to cross-border repression.