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.
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.