Rare protests in Uzbekistan’s autonomous Karakalpakstan region turned deadly last week, according to the government, as President Shavkat Mirziyoyev faced growing calls to allow an independent investigation into the violence.
Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets on Friday in opposition to proposed constitutional reforms that would have refused the province, which borders Kazakhstan and the Aral Sea, the right to secede.
Under the current constitution, the sprawling Karakalpakstan, home to a diverse population of two million people including ethnic Karakalpaks which accounts for about 40 percent of Uzbekistan’s territory, is described as a sovereign republic within Uzbekistan and has the right to secede by holding a referendum.
Mirziyoyev has since abandoned the amendment while imposing a month-long state of emergency in the region, where the flow of information has been stifled by reported internet suspensions since last week.
Here is what we know about the protests so far:
Eighteen dead and 243 wounded
Uzbek authorities said on Monday that 18 people were killed and 243 were wounded during the protests. The national guard said 516 people were detained but have since been released.
Mirziyoyev, who pledged a raft of human rights reforms after taking office in 2016, has said there were “civilians and law enforcement officers” among the dead. Authorities have not offered further details of the identities of those killed or how they died.
The government has said protesters marched through the provincial capital of Nukus on Friday. They accused protesters of throwing stones, starting fires and attacking police, as well as trying to storm local…