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Nauryzbai Menlibayev, a prominent Karakalpak activist is facing removal from Austria

Nauryzbai Menlibayev, a prominent Karakalpak activist known for his advocacy for the rights of Karakalpaks, his wife and 2 year-old child are currently facing imminent deportation from Austria after the rejection of their asylum claim. 

Freedom for Eurasia requested the European Human Rights Court to grant interim measures in accordance with Rule 39 on Nauryzbai Menlibayev’s deportation case.

For over 15 years, Nauryzbai Menlibayev has been a vocal voice for the Karakalpak ethnic minority in Uzbekistan, shedding light on issues of discrimination, corruption, human rights abuses and the right to self-determination. As a blogger and leader of the “Oyan Karakalpakstan” movement, Menlibayev utilized various social media platforms to raise awareness and mobilize support for this cause. In 2013, Menlibayev co-founded Alga Karakalpakstan and Oyan Karakalpakstan associations, which garnered significant support for the cause. His efforts extended beyond borders, with many activists outside Karakalpakstan joining the movement despite the risks posed by Uzbekistan’s security services.

Despite facing pressure and persecution from Uzbekistan’s security services, because of his activism and advocacy for Karakalpakstan’s sovereignty. Despite threats Menlibayev continued his advocacy, even expanding the movement beyond the borders of Karakalpakstan. His participation in international conferences, such as the OSCE 2019 conference in Warsaw, demonstrated his commitment to seeking support and solidarity on a global scale.

However, Menlibayev’s journey for safety and asylum took a negative turn when he, along with his wife and child, sought refuge in Poland after participating in the OSCE ODIHR conference in 2023. Despite applying for refugee status, they were met with harsh living conditions and limited support from Polish authorities. Fearing deportation and witnessing the plight of other Central Asian dissidents, Menlibayev sought asylum in Austria, only to face rejection and imminent deportation under Dublin procedure.

The decision to deport Menlibayev and his family to Poland raises serious concerns, as Poland proved to be not a safe country for activists and human rights defenders from Central Asia. The allegations of procedural breaches and the failure to consider alternative measures to detention further highlight the flaws in the asylum process.

Moreover, the risk of Menlibayev being transferred to Uzbekistan or facing persecution in Kazakhstan underscores the urgent need for international attention and intervention in his case. The tragic death of fellow Karakalpak activist Nietbai Urazbayev whose Kazakh citizenship was revoked under the pressure from Uzbek authorities  serves as a reminder of the dangers faced by those who dare to speak out against injustice.

Freedom for Eurasia has submitted Menlibayev’s case against Austria to the European Human Rights Court requesting interim measures in accordance with Rule 39 to call on Austrian authorities to reconsider their decision and provide Nauryzbai Menlibayev and his family with the protection they desperately need.

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