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URGENT! Karakalpak activist Aqylbek Muratbai was arrested in Almaty due to Uzbek extradition request

Just now we were informed that Karakalpak activist and head of Karakalpak diaspora organization in Almaty “Eren El” Aqylbek Muratbai was arrested by Kazakh and Uzbek law enforcement in his home in Almaty, Kazakhstan. He was taken to the Almaty city police department.

According to our information Aqylbek Muratbai is arrested due to Uzbekistan’s extradition request. He is charged with Article 159 (Encroachments on the constitutional system of the Republic of Uzbekistan), 244 par. 1 (Public call for riots and violence against citizens) of the Uzbekistan Criminal Code. His arrest was led by Uzbek police official Baimurzaev Muhamedin Orazbayevich.

Baimurzaev Muhamedin Orazbayevich arresting Aqylbek Muratbai

In October 2023 the activist reported that his relatives in Uzbekistan have been subjected to harassment by Uzbek special services (SGB) and police. The officers that visited Muratbai’s relatives demanded that they pressure Muratbai into quitting activism or else the relatives will suffer the consequences. Muratbai has been living in Kazakhstan for 13 years.

Uzbek authorities have been engaged in persecution of Karakalpaks for decades. However, the pressure intensified after the July 2022 peaceful protests in Karakalpakstan which was brutally suppressed by Uzbek forces. Uzbekistan’s authorities excessive use of deadly force against the unarmed protesters left hundreds of people dead and wounded. The violent dispersal was followed with politically motivated trials which sentenced dozens of Karakalpak activists to lengthy prison terms.

We call on Kazakh authorities to protect Aqylbek Muratbai’s fundamental rights and release him without delay.

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