Following a day of angry protests that left 18 dead and hundreds wounded, Uzbekistan's President Shavkat Mirziyoyev on July 2 announced that he will not proceed with a planned constitutional change to revoke the right of the autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan, in the country's remote northeast, to secede via referendum. The announcement came as Mirziyoyev made an emergency visit to Nukus, the riot-stricken regional capital of Karakalpakstan. He also imposed a month-long state of emergency in the region.
From Anarchist Black Cross Belarus, June 10:
A full-scale war in Ukraine has been going on for over three months now. The anarchist movement has responded to the Russian invasion in different ways during these three months—some have begun unconditionally supporting their comrades in Ukraine, while others continue to repeat the story of NATO aggression in the region. We also felt it necessary to make a statement about our view of events.
Long-depressed oil prices are suddenly soaring in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with impacts already being felt globally. Kazakhstan, recently wracked by internal instability, is facing economic crisis as its crude exports are threatened. Most of these exports pass through a pipeline linking Kazakhstan's western oil-fields to Russia's Black Sea terminal at Novorossiysk. That terminal, owned by the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC), lies within 250 kilometers of the Ukrainian port of Mariupol, now besieged by Russian forces. This proximity is sufficient for tankers loading at the Novorossiysk terminal to incur a "war risk insurance premium." According to S&P Global Platts, the premium has been high enough to deter buyers since the Russian invasion of Ukraine was launched late last month.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Feb. 2 charged that during and since last month's popular uprising in Kazakhstan, security forces have arbitrarily detained protestors, tortured some detainees, and interfered with their access to lawyers. The nationwide protests, which began over of a rise in energy prices, turned bloody after President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev ordered his armed forces to "shoot and kill without warning," leading to the deaths of at least 227 people. HRW says it has received dozens of credible accounts of arbitrary detentions, with some of those arrested being beaten with batons or given electric shocks. The organization directly interviewed some former detainees and their lawyers, and compiled reports from Kazakh rights groups and independent media outlets. Reported abuses include the forcible transfer of wounded persons from hospitals to detention centers.
Kazakhstan's President Kasym-Jomart Tokayev on Jan. 5 called participants in the protests that have swept the Central Asian nation this week "terrorists," accusing them of attempting to undermine his government at the behest of foreign powers. He also issued a call for Russia and the other members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) to come to his country's defense.
The Uyghur Tribunal, an "independent people's court" convened by exile and human rights groups, concluded last week after months of hearings in London. Following a request from the World Uyghur Congress, the Tribunal was organized last year by Sir Geoffrey Nice, the lead prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The Uyghur Tribunal heard testimony from some 500 witnesses, including survivors of the detention camps in Xinjiang, on torture, sexual abuse, coerced labor, and forced sterilization.
A court in Kazakhstan on March 4 sentenced two activists to two years of "freedom limitation" (similar to probation) for their involvement with banned political groups. The court in the southern city of Taraz found Nazira Lesova and Nazira Lepesova guilty of organizing and participating in prohibited demonstrations as part of their activities with the groups Koshe (Street) Party and Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DCK). The sentences came two days after Zhazira Qambarova, another DCK activist, was also sentenced to two years of "freedom limitation" for similar activities. The three women were arrested in February and are among several activists across Kazakhstan who have been arrested for participating in demonstrations ranging from marches in support of women's rights to rallies calling for pro-democratic governmental reforms.
On a visit to Baghdad this week, Gen. Frank McKenzie, chief of the Pentagon's Central Command, announced that US forces in Iraq will be reduced in the coming weeks from some 5,200 troops to about 3,000. McKenzie later told reporters that troop levels in Afghanistan will drop from the current 8,600 to 4,500. All of this is to happen by "late October," he said. How convenient. (AP, Politico) This all smells more of politics that strategy. There are still more than 10,000 ISIS fighters remaining across Iraq and Syria, according to a UN estimate from August. So, as Defense One comments, "any 'mission accomplished' moment remains elusive to clear-eyed observers of ISIS and the Middle East."