Germany’s dialogue with the Uzbek regime: a disgrace for German democracy 8


In light of recent developments in Germany we are reposting this article from March.

This is an excellent article from Galima Burkabaeva, which deserves to be studied.

I was continually stunned by the enthusiasm of the cooperation of German officials and Ministers with the Uzbek regime. This even included Joschka Fischer, the most sycophantic of all politicians to regularly visit Tashkent.

The British consultant and former Liberal MP Michael Meadowcroft was kicked off a German-led, EU funded consultancy programme with the Uzbek parliament for pointing out that this was a token parliament (it meets five days a year) in a one party state. The rest of the consultants were all German and seemed to have no problem at all with this. Michael pointed out to me that they were all Russian speaking East Germans. That is indeed true of most of the Germans in Tashkent in official persons, particularly in the German aid agency..

When the EU brought in travel sanctions against Uzbekistan, on the very day those sanctions came into force Germany admitted Uzbek Interior Minister Almatov, the first name on the EU banned list, for medical treatment organised by the German government.

The German Air Base at Termez is of great symbolic significance to Germany because it is the first permanent overseas base Germany established since the Second World War. How fitting then that it should be sited with a fascist regime.

I am very reluctant indeed to conclude this, but I can no longer think of any other explanation for the attitude of German politicians and officials to Karimov, except that the German establishment retains a hereditary yearning for fascism.

Craig

Germany’s dialogue with the Uzbek regime: a disgrace for German democracy

From Muslim Uzbekistan


German politicians in Berlin dislike talking or hearing about the events in Andijan, Uzbekistan, on May 13, 2005, when government troops opened up on protesters and killed hundreds, perhaps, even thousands.

This episode smears the rosy picture of Germany’s cooperation with Uzbekistan that enables Berlin to promote its interests in the region. One of these interests includes existence of a military base in Termez in south Uzbekistan.

The Bundeswehr needs the base in Termez for the peacekeeping operation in Afghanistan. The base is apparently more important to Berlin than the lives of innocent residents of Andijan, human rights, or even Germany’s own democratic image.

The only country of the West with a military base in Uzbekistan and the only country in the West to maintain military cooperation with the Uzbek regime despite the Andijan massacre, Germany helps the Uzbek state and its security structures. Official Berlin ascribes it to the necessity to continue the dialogue with Islam Karimov’s government.

As far as German politicians are concerned, threats and ultimatums may offend the Uzbek rulers and they will isolate the country from the West and its benevolent influence for good.

Flirting with official Tashkent, German politicians deceive themselves in thinking that their mildness and tact will convince the dictatorship to honor democratic values. In the meantime, it is the dictatorship that stoops Germany to its own level. It has already persuaded this country to overlook mass killing of demonstrators in Andijan and the wave of repressions that swept Uzbekistan in its wake.

Karimov’s regime did not order its army to open up on peaceful demonstrators in Andijan because it did not know that it was wrong or because it needed advice and dialogue. Citizens of Andijan were murdered deliberately so as to rule out the very possibility of resistance to the regime both in this particular city and elsewhere throughout the country.

German politicians know what happened in Andijan. Not one of them questions or challenges testimony of witnesses, reports made by journalists, or summaries provided by human rights organizations, UN, OSCE.

And yet, the Germans go on meeting with representatives of the Uzbek government, creating in the latter the illusion of recognition and imbuing in the Uzbek rulers the feeling of impunity.

Retaining a military base in Termez, Germany adds another argument to Karimov’s policy, fortifying his confidence that it is quite all right to continue manipulating interests of foreign countries and terrorizing his own people at the same time.

German politicians’ dialogue with the regime in Tashkent is as amoral as dialogues with Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, Serbian butcher Slobodan Milosevic, Iraqi cutthroat Saddam Hussein, or “the father of all peoples” Josef Stalin.

Suppressing political and economic freedoms in Uzbekistan, Karimov himself fomented the Andijan demonstration. Once it was mowed down, the regime spread repressions to the nationwide scale. Thousands were arrested, almost 200 people were tried, convicted, and sentenced for participation in the protests in Andijan. BBC, RL/RFE, Internews, and IWPR were ousted from the country. Accreditation of several Deutche Welle correspondents was annulled the other day.

The latest decree regulating activities of foreign journalists in Uzbekistan comes down to what essentially is an occupation ban. A free occupation by definition, journalism has been monopolized by the Uzbek state. Writing an article takes an accreditation with the Foreign Ministry of Uzbekistan.

International non-government organizations were driven out of the country. It is the turn of the Directorate of UN Supreme Commissar for Refugees now.

Human rights activists were sentenced to years behind the bars by the dozen including Mutabar Tadzhibayeva of the Ferghana Fiery Hearts Club, Saidzhakhon Zainabitdinov from Andijan, Sunny Coalition leaders Sandzhar Umarov and Nadira Khidoyatova.

Germany never protested, not once. What is the dialogue about then? What is it supposed to accomplish? And when?

We’ve seen only one accomplishment so far. German aircraft are still using Termez airfield. Is that all Berlin wants from the dialogue with Karimov?

Hedi Wegener of the Social Democratic Party and Wolf Bauer of the Christian Democratic Party are enthusiastic supporters of the dialogue with the government of Uzbekistan. Wegener and Bauer belong to the parliamentary team for interaction with Central Asia.

Wegener and Bauer visited Uzbekistan in late February and met with Uzbek lawmakers and Interior Minister Bakhodyr Matlyubov. Na Postu (publication of the Interior Ministry of Uzbekistan) ran an article on the visit on February 25. According to the story, the sides were quite satisfied with the level of cooperation between German and Uzbek law enforcement agencies and Wegener even praised the Uzbek penitentiary system.

When on a visit to Uzbekistan, the German parliamentarians met with Tamara Chikunova, leader of Mothers Against Death Sentence and Torture, but had no time for the people who desperately needed help. Wegener and Bauer evidenced no interest whatsoever in the trials of Sunny Coalition leaders or citizens of Andijan or Tadzhibayeva.

The Germans returned to Berlin, met with journalists on March 15, and announced that “pressure never brings about the desired results” by way of explanation.

For starters, however, Wegener asked the journalists who had covered the May 13 events in Andijan, “What were you doing in Andijan in the first place?” (the question the Uzbek authorities never miss a chance to ask).

Wegener is convinced that the dialogue with the government of Uzbekistan is a must as the only means of exerting influence with official Tashkent.

“I cannot shake my head and tell them “Naughty, naughty” like a teacher. Uzbek officials may take offense and that will be the end of all and any cooperation,” she said.

Speaking of cooperation with Uzbekistan, Bauer admitted that Germany had interests in this country. “We need this military base in Termez,” the parliamentarian said.

Wegener did not perceive any inconsistence in how Germany is helping Afghanistan with establishment of democracy from the territory of the state that does not hesitate to open up on its own people.

According to Wegener, Berlin does not really have a choice in the matter because “all Central Asian countries are non-democratic.” Upon hearing that other Central Asian countries do not sic their armies on their peoples, Wegener only shrugged and said that it was a journalistic approach while politicians the world over had other considerations to take into account.

The briefing was interrupted by appearance of a girl carrying a coffer tray. The girl was identified as the daughter of one of the Uzbek diplomats in Berlin, an employee at Wegener’s office.

Wegener was asked if Germany’s dialogue with Karimov could prevent another Andijan. She called it a journalistic approach again and refused to elaborate.

When the briefing was drawing to its end, Wegener said that helping Central Asian people out was all she aspired for.

German’s policy of a “softly-spoken dialogue” is being carried out in Uzbekistan by several German foundations including the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and its Executive Director for Central Asia Reinhard Krumm.

The Friedrich Ebert Foundation has never criticized the Uzbek authorities or condemned gross human rights abuses. Uzbek officials are always invited to the pompous seminars and conferences organized by the foundation. They accept the invitations with pleasure, knowing that no caustic questions will be asked.

This is what the foundation in question owes its official registration to. That is what makes it practically the only foreign non-government organization that never encounters any problems with the Uzbek authorities.

Sihem Bensedrine, a journalist from Tunisia, attended Woman And Islam, a conference the Friedrich Ebert Foundation organized shortly after the massacre in Andijan. The conference took place in Samarkand between September 30 and October 3, 2005.

Bensedrine was struck by the list of participants that consisted by two thirds of officials: representatives of the presidential administration, generals and colonels of the police, and women from pro-Karimov non-government organizations.

“I was shocked by what I heard,” Bensedrine admitted. “Krumm thanked officials for turning up. State officials in their turn promised to continue their war on terrorism which they said was the only road to success.”

When Bensedrine tried to ask a question concerning Andijan, Krumm cut her short and explained that other participants of the conference might be offended.

“I do not understand what games the foundation is playing there,” the Tunisian journalist said. “Its democratic principles and values forgotten, it is playing political games in Uzbekistan.”

Other participants of that conference disagreed with Bensedrine but she kept insisting that this was how it had been.

Sergei Kalamutsjau, an expert with the International League for Human Rights, says that Germany’s post-Andijan policy with regard to Uzbekistan may only be compared to the behavior of Russia and China. These two countries are also doing what they can to benefit from the situation.

Germany objected to EU sanctions against Uzbekistan after Andijan. When the sanctions were nevertheless imposed, it granted former interior minister Zakir Almatov a visa to come to Germany for medical assistance.

Human Rights Watch appealed to the German prosecutor’s office to press charges (torture and mass murder in Andijan) against Almatov but the authorities permitted him to depart the country.

A. Shields of Human Rights Watch maintains that the evidence of torture and mass murders in Andijan when Almatov was running the Interior Ministry was so irrefutable than an impartial investigation would have inevitably resulted in his arrest.

Wegener insists that Germany was correct to give a sick person the visa and that it concurs with the high principles of humanism.

In the meantime, Wegener refused to listen to the tapes of Andijan massacre recorded by BBC journalists where demonstrators begged the troops to hold their fire and were answered with a barrage of large-caliber bullets. “It does not matter,” she said.

Pointedly ignoring evidence of mass murder Almatov was directly involved in, Wegener elaborates on humanism when the matter concerns his own health.

Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize winner and author of books on the Holocaust who survived the hell of fascist concentration camps, once said, “Let us never forget that victims of genocide suffer from witnesses’ silence much more than from cruelty of oppressors.”

The people of Uzbekistan will not forget German politicians’ silence. Fortunately, dictatorships do not last.


8 thoughts on “Germany’s dialogue with the Uzbek regime: a disgrace for German democracy

  • Richard II

    Craig Murray wrote: "I am very reluctant indeed to conclude this, but…the German establishment retains a hereditary yearning for fascism."

    I'm shocked and appalled, Mr Murray. That's anti-Germanism! And it's madness, total insanity! This hatred of Germany has got to stop. We need Germany on our side. We shouldn't be alienating a great nation like this, as annoying as Germany may be at times.

    I sound like an idiot, don't I? But replace "anti-Germanism" with "anti-Americanism", and suddenly I sound a lot like Tony Blair, the pervert from Hell, the man who gets his kicks from having sick thoughts and then acting on them:

    "Tony Blair today described anti-Americanism across Europe as 'madness'"
    http://politics.guardian.co.uk/foreignaffairs/sto

    "…I want to speak plainly here…the strain of, frankly, anti-American feeling in parts of European politics is madness when set against the long-term interests of the world we believe in. [for 'we' read 'corporations']

    "The danger with America today is not that they are too much involved. The danger is they decide to pull up the drawbridge and disengage. We need them involved. We want them engaged. The reality is that none of the problems that press in on us, can be resolved or even contemplated without them."

    The only problems pressing in on us, Mr Blair, are sick and twisted political "leaders" like you.

    Why would America pull up the "drawbridge"? American foreign policy isn't founded upon altruism.

    Blair has just called on Bush to intensify the bombing of Iraq, to indiscriminately kill and maim more innocent civilians, to traumatise more Iraqi children, to divide Iraqis still further, and then to go after Iran.

    After that speech, Blair, apparently, went off to the bathroom, repeated to himself what he'd just said, and began masturbating.

    I'm sorry, but you just can't be polite when dealing with a sordid individual who get his kicks by angering and tormenting others.

    What Blair effectively said in his speech was: "Bush, you're doing a heck of a job!"

    More blood on your conscience, Mr Blair – if you had one, that is.

  • Richard II

    Of course, anti-worldism by America is perfectly acceptable.

    Bush said, either you are with the U.S. or you are with the terrorists. If that isn't a declaration of hostility towards any government or any nation that refuses to acquiesce in America's bloody foreign policy, then nothing is.

    By now, it should be obvious to everyone that America is out to dominate the world, to bully other countries, other governments, until it gets what it wants: political, economic, and military supremacy.

    Iraq was liberated from Saddam, all right, but right after the invasion Bush began implementing economic policies the Iraqi people did not want: 15% flat rate corporation tax (and the same for the very wealthy), food and housing subsidies were abolished, unions were banned, a massive privatisation programme was instituted, there was no requirement to buy from Iraqi businesses or hire Iraqi workers, 100% of profits could be repatriated (there was no obligation to re-invest those profits in Iraq), and on and on.

    Resistance groups fighting the U.S. occupation have mentioned these economic policies as a specific reason for attacking American forces – and ONLY American forces – in their country.

    There is only room in this world for one economic system: America's!

    There is only room in this world for one political system: America's!

    There is only room in this world for one military superpower: America!

    If you reject the above statements, you reject peace; you are a TERRORIST!

  • Richard II

    From a Naomi Klein article (bit of background information Naomi doesn't give: oil workers in Iraq were being paid 69,000 Dinars – just $40 – per month in 2003/2004):

    "It is in Basra where the connections between economic reforms and the rise of the resistance was put in starkest terms. In December the union representing oil workers was negotiating with the Oil Ministry for a salary increase. Getting nowhere, the workers offered the ministry a simple choice: increase their paltry salaries or they would all join the armed resistance. They received a substantial raise."

    Their salary increased 48%, to a WHOPPING $60 a month. America was prepared to spill blood over a few bucks. Makes you realise who the real extremists are.

    For a short fact sheet about Iraq's oil industry, go here:
    http://uslaboragainstwar.org/downloads/GUOE%20fac

    Another comment by Naomi:

    "Tofiq did say that several U.S. companies had expressed strong interest in buying the state-owned cement factories. This supports a widely held belief in Iraq that there is a deliberate strategy to neglect the state firms so that they can be sold more cheaply–a practice known as 'starve then sell.'"

    There's no link. You have to go to <a href="http://www.nologo.org” target=”_blank”>www.nologo.org and click on "Dispatches", then scroll down to a 2004 article entitled "Baghdad Year Zero: Pillaging Iraq in pursuit of a neo-con utopia"

    I would find more links to back up what I said in my previous post, but I don't know if anyone is even reading this; or, maybe, those that are, know about all this already.

    Anyway, as Blair said "anti-Americanism" will not be tolerated, but anti-Arabism, that's allowed to flourish because, as we all know, Arabs are extremists with extremist ideologies, so let's keep bombing them and treating them like filth. Maybe soon they'll get the message and become civilized – just like us!

    If not, we'll just have to kill some more of them, intensify the pillaging, until their extremist ideology is uprooted and destroyed, until they become a peaceful people like us Westerners.

    THIS IS WAR!

    Blair's speech inspired me to write that.

  • Richard II

    I had a link to a resistance group's Web site, in which they explicitly state that the economic policies the U.S. has imposed on Iraq against the will of the Iraqi people is a principal reason they are fighting the U.S. occupation.

    I had the link. I've lost it or can't find it now.

    Some months ago, on BBC's Newsnight programme, they invited people onto the show to present the case for and against the invasion.

    No attempt was made to analyse why Iraqis have taken up arms against the U.S. They are all presented as extremists with extreme ideologies, fighting America for totally irrational and insane reasons. This is also what Blair said in his speech, and is the reason, he claims, the conflict must continue, and, indeed, widen. Negotiation, Blair says, is impossible – as we are up against a bunch of crazies!

    No mention of the anger caused by the economic and "free market" policies the U.S. has imposed on Iraq.

    The jury, made up of members of the public, said they would have liked to have known more about the groups fighting America, and their reasons for doing so, but Jeremy Paxman dismissed the comment, saying, that's for another show. Like hell it is!

    Jeremy Paxman is paid huge sums to keep his mouth shut. He's a fat, contented cat. And when he interviews Blair, he certainly behaves like a PUSSY CAT, rubbing Blair's leg, waiting for his master to stroke him.

    Hence, I don't watch Newsnight anymore, and I don't buy newspapers. I'm not handing money over for dross.

    Would Americans behave like the Iraqis faced with the same situation? Sure they would!

    Read this article. It talks about the American people fighting the English to free themselves from subservience to English corporations.
    http://www.reclaimdemocracy.org/corporate_account

    And here's a recent article about the impact U.S. economic policies have had on Iraq and on the insurgency:
    http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0328-29.htm

  • fabs

    Hi Craig,

    I actually see this as a consequence of history. German policy makers saw the reunification in 1990 as a signal to "move on" from the past–Germany could stop behaving like a timid child in terms of foreign policy, could start acting like a major power. That actually was one of the Soviet's major fears during the 4 + 2 talks.

    My opinion is that the FRG saw 1990 precisely as the signal to move on. Now they can simply behave as hypocritically as all the other "powers" in the world.

    For german politicians to claim that allowing almatov in was "humanistic" is so blatantly hypocritical as to be insulting. Keeping the base at Termez is in my opinion, the first step in Germany's "I'm a power again" game. In that game, Germany will use human rights simply as an excuse–nothing more or less. Just like the US/UK.

  • Richard II

    Somehow my old posts have turned up here.

    I didn't re-post them; you can tell because they've got the old dates on.

    Maybe Craig's server has a bug.

    I hate reading what I write. I can understand actors who hate seeing themselves on screen.

  • Richard II

    "In light of recent developments in Germany we are reposting this article from March."

    Now I know why!

  • Richard II

    Relating to the article, I think the question that needs to be asked is: are the German people aware of all this, or is their "mainstream" media as bad as America's.

Comments are closed.