In News: Protests in Uzbekistan’s autonomous province of Karakalpakstan
- The protests had broken out in response to the government’s plan to restrict the region’s long-held autonomy.
- Thousands took to the streets of the region’s capital, Nukus.
Who are the Karakalpaks?
- The name Karakalpakstan is derived from the Karakalpak people, an ethnic minority group of around 2 million.
- Karakalpak translates to ‘black hat’, referring to their traditional headgear.
- The Karakalpaks consider themselves to be a distinct cultural group in Uzbekistan.
- Their Turkic language – Karakalpak – is closely related to Kazak.
- Their separate language is a crucial aspect of their cultural identity.
- In their genealogical narrative, the Karakalpaks claim to share a common point of origin with the neighbouring Kazakhs, Uzbeks and Turkmen, but believe that over time they diverged from the others.
- This narrative marks the Karakalpaks as culturally separate from their neighbouring groups
What is the region’s history?
- The Karakalpak people settled around the Amu Darya (a river that feeds into the Aral Sea) in the 18th century.
- By 1873, they partly came under Russian rule and by 1920 were completely incorporated into the Soviet Union.
- Their region, Karakalpakstan, was an autonomous area within the USSR, before it was made a part of Uzbekistan as the Karakalpak Autonomous Socialist Republic (ASSR) in 1936.
- After the fall of USSR Karakalpakstan was formally recognized as an autonomous republic in Uzbekistan’s constitution of 1992, and has the right to secede from on the basis of a nation-wide referendum.
What triggered the recent protests?
- Violent protests broke out in the impoverished Karakalpakstan after President of Uzbekistan published a draft amendment to the Uzbek constitution on June 27, which removed the region’s right to secede Uzbekistan by a referendum.
How has the government reacted?
- With violent protest, government dropped the plans to curtail Karakalpakstan’s right to secede.
Why do the Karakalpaks feel neglected?
- An environmental crisis, and the health and economic troubles it brought in its wake, has made Karakalpakstan an impoverished region and invoked a sense of neglect among the Karakalpak people.
- Karakalpakstan was one of the most fertile provinces in Uzbekistan, due to its location next to the Aral Sea
- However, Aral Sea has been steadily shrinking and reducing the arable land in the province.
- In the 1960s, the Soviet government began to divert water from the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers that feed into the sea, and used it to irrigate the water-intensive cotton crop of the desert region.
- With the Aral Sea becoming increasingly drained of its water, the salt and mineral content began to drastically rise, making the water unfit to drink and killing off the fish in the lake.
- As a result, fishing industries and communities that relied on the sea collapsed.
- It was accompanied by significant desertification of the region and Karakalpakstan, which primarily relies on agriculture and animal husbandry, has subsequently become Uzbekistan’s most impoverished region.
Source: Indian Express
Previous Year Question
Q.1) Consider the following pairs: (2016)
Community sometimes of mentioned in the news: In the affairs
- Kurd : Bangladesh
- Madhesi : Nepal
- Rohingya : Myanmar
Which of the pairs given above is/are correctly matched?
- 1 and 2
- 2 only
- 2 and 3
- 3 only