From Harpers Magazine
S. Frederick Starr, Uzbekistan’s friend in Washington (May 24, 2006).
A year ago this month, security forces in Uzbekistan killed hundreds of protesters in the town of Andijan. Human rights groups and journalists reported that the crowd was overwhelmingly unarmed and had come out to protest corruption and poor economic conditions. ‘The scale of this killing was so extensive, and its nature was so indiscriminate and disproportionate, that it can best be described as a massacre,’ Human Rights Watch said in a study of the events at Andijan.
The regime of Islam Karimov sought to justify the carnage by saying that the demonstration was organized by Islamic militants seeking to overthrow the government (an argument the Uzbek government knows is music to the ears of the Bush Administration). Last week the Karimov regime sought to prove its case by staging the U.S. debut of a short video on the Andijan crackdown. The event was sponsored by the Hudson Institute and the Central Asia Caucasus Institute (CACI) at Johns Hopkins University, and co-hosted by CACI director Professor S. Frederick Starr. An account at EurasiaNet.org said that Starr ‘sought to undermine the credibility of several independent news accounts . . . alleging journalists deliberately falsified their stories. ‘I think they were lying . . . of course they had an anti-government agenda,” he said.
It was all in a day’s work for Starr, who is perhaps the Karimov regime’s most outspoken advocate in Washington’a regime that once tortured a political prisoner to death with methods that included the use of boiling water and then arrested his elderly mother when she complained. He also speaks fondly of several other despotic governments in central Asia, a region he views almost exclusively through the prism of American geopolitical interests and with little interest in issues like human rights and corruption.