Central Asia Theater

Karakalpakstan retains right to secede after unrest

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.

Leaked documents reveal abuse of Uyghurs

China's President Xi Jinping held a video call with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet during her visit to Xinjiang May 25. But Bachelet's fact-finding tour co-incided with new evidence of crimes against the Uyghur people of the province. A hacker broke into a network of computers in Xinjiang's so-called "Vocational Skills Education & Training Centers," releasing a cache of files that document significant abuses. The Xinjiang Police Files, published by the Journal of the European Association for Chinese Studies, include images from inside the camps, as well as thousands of detainee records. Many of these are run by the BBC in a photo essay, "The faces from China's Uyghur detention camps."

Youth protests in Mongolian capital

Thousands of young Mongolians with no political affiliation filled central Sukhbaatar Square in the capital Ulaanbaatar for two days of peaceful protest April 7 and 8, demanding reforms to address a long list of grievances related to taxation, inflation, job opportunities, police brutality and judicial independence. After the first day's demonstration broke up late that night, one group of some 20 youth was set upon by the police and beaten—which only set off a second day of protests. Support for Ukraine in the face of Russia's aggression was also a popular sentiment at the demonstrations, with many protesters displaying the Ukrainian colors as well as the Mongolian flag. Mongolia's government abstained in the two UN General Assembly votes condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (The Diplomat, IPS)

Podcast: the looming breakup of Russia

In Episode 118 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg explores the possibility that Putin's criminal adventure in Ukraine could backfire horribly, actually portending the implosion of the Russian Federation into its constituent entities, the "autonomous" republics, oblasts and krais. Troops from Russia's Far East were apparently involved in the horrific massacre at the Kyiv suburb of Bucha. But indigenous leaders from Siberia and the Russian Arctic are breaking with Moscow over the Ukraine war. Rumblings of separatist sentiment are now heard from Yakutia (Sakha), Khabarovsk, Kalmykia, Kamchatka, Tatarstan, Tuva, the Altai Republic, and the entirety of Siberia. China, which controlled much of what is now the Russian Far East until the 1850s, has its own expansionist designs on the region. Frederick Engels called for the "destruction forever" of Russia during the Crimean War, but it may collapse due to its own internal contradictions rather than Western aggression.

Tajikistan: internet darkness in Gorno-Badakhshan

Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Feb. 7 urged Tajikistan's authorities to restore internet connectivity in Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO, by its Russian acronym), and called on the national government to ensure due process for a political activist from the region whose whereabouts remain unknown weeks after he was detained.

Arbitrary arrests continue in Kazakhstan

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 president asks Russia to help quash uprising

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.

Podcast: Ilshat Kokbore on the Uyghur struggle

In Episode 96 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg interviews Ilshat Kokbore, former president of the Uyghur American Association and current director for China affairs with the World Uyghur Congress. Kokbore relates the story of his exile from his homeland in East Turkistan, known to its current Chinese rulers as Xinjiang, for petitioning against the purge of the Uyghur language from the educational system in 2003. Since then, of course, the situation has escalated to mass detention and even, in the opinion of many international legal experts, genocide. Kokbore discusses the history of the independence struggle in East Turkistan and the current campaign to boycott the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.

Syndicate content