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Karakalpakstan activist Zhetkerbai Abdramanov put on the wanted list

In January 2024 authorities of Uzbekistan have put a 35-year-old activist from the Kanlykul district of Karakalpakstan, Zhetkerbai Abdramanov on the wanted list. In December 2023, he was charged in absentia under Art. 159 part 1 (Encroachments on the constitutional order) and 244-1 (Dissemination of materials that threaten public safety) of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Prints of Zhetkerbai are posted in hospitals, schools, kindergartens and other public places in the area.

On 29 June, 2022, just two days before the protests in Karakalpakstan, Abdramanov, who was working in Kazakhstan at the time, was detained in one of the Almaty markets for distributing materials that expressed disagreement with changes to the Constitution of Uzbekistan, which envisaged the abolition of the sovereignty of the Republic of Karakalpakstan and collecting signatures of Karakalpaks in Kazakhstan against Consitutional amendments.

Pretext for his arrest was expired residency registration. He was told by police to not engage in civic activism and was released.

Abdramanov did not comply and continued his avtivism via social media criticizing Myrziyoyev’s regime’s actions against Karakalpaks. As a result, on January 31, 2023, he was deported to Kyrgyzstan for allegedly violating migration laws. Kazakh authorities provided a police escort that drove him 400 km to the border with Kyrgyzstan. He later left for third safe country, but was denied entry at multiple airports and was deported back and forth between airports and faced difficulties applying for asylum in a safe third country.

In the meantime, Uzbekistan law enforcement officers harass and intimidate his parents in Karakalpakstan, demanding that they report their son’s whereabouts, promising that if he returned to the country, he would allegedly “not be imprisoned,” but would only be fined the equivalent of approximately $1,000. Not only is this most probably an effort by authorities to trick Abdramanov into returning, but also imposing such high fines on Karakalpak activists is a way for Uzbek authorities to force them into debt bondage.

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