Sting’s Defence 51


Sting and the Glamorous Dictator’s Daughter Gulnara Karimova

Sting has come out with a spirited defence of his visit to Tashkent as the guest of Karimov’s daughter:

‘I supported wholeheartedly the cultural boycott of South Africa under the apartheid regime because it was a special case and specifically targeted the younger demographic of the ruling white middle class.

‘I am well aware of the Uzbek president’s appalling reputation in the field of human rights as well as the environment. I made the decision to play there in spite of that.

‘I have come to believe that cultural boycotts are not only pointless gestures, they are counter-productive, where proscribed states are further robbed of the open commerce of ideas and art and as a result become even more closed, paranoid and insular.

‘I seriously doubt whether the President of Uzbekistan cares in the slightest whether artists like myself come to play in his

But this really is transparent bollocks. He did not take a guitar and jam around the parks of Tashkent. He got paid over a million pounds to play an event specifically designed to glorify a barbarous regime. Is the man completely mad?

Why does he think it was worth over a million quid to the regime to hear him warble a few notes?

I agree with him that cultural isolation does not help. I am often asked about the morality of going to Uzbekistan, and I always answer – go, mix with ordinary people, tell them about other ways of life, avoid state owned establishments and official tours. What Sting did was the opposite. To invoke Unicef as a cover, sat next to a woman who has made hundreds of millions from state forced child labour in the cotton fields, is pretty sick.

Next time you see Sumner on television warbling on about his love for the rain forest, switch him off.


A commenter suggested a boycott of Sting’s music. I was going to agree, but on reflection it would take an enormous effort to track down someone who listens to it, before we could ask them to stop.

Evidently Sting could do with listening to David Tennant in Murder in Samarkand:

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51 thoughts on “Sting’s Defence

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  • Craig


    You stopped your quotation from Murder in Samarkand short of the immediately following:

    “Was she really behind the corrupt acquisition of all those businesses, the closing down of rival businesses, the massive bribes from energy deals?”

  • Olly

    I came across this post via the article in the Guardian. I’d like to just say that it refreshing to hear someone talking sense again. Thanks very much!

  • Courtenay Barnett


    Look at this:-

    “George Laird

    The Campaign for Human Righhts at Glasgow University”

    And then this:

    “I don’t think the moral case would take precedent over the financial one.”

    However, with a person like Sting, isn’t the point that he is so financially well off that it is precisely someone in his position, best placed, and popularly positioned, to make the case for standing up for human rights – isn’t that the point George?

  • Kevin Mc

    This is surprising and disappointing news, Craig, not about Sting, any semi-competent person knows what he’s like, no I am disappointed by UNICEF’s attitude towards Uzbekistan. Their website on this country is totally silent on the issue of child labour in the cotton fields, or on the use of torture: if a child’s dad was tortured that would affect the child, yes? What is more disturbing is that UNICEF’s parent organisation, the UN, does publicise the barbaric nature of the Karimov regime, yet UNICEF is silent.

    I am thinking about making a monthly direct debit donation to UNICEF, but first I will have to send an email to UNICEF about this issue – blimey: is no organisation clean today?

  • George Laird

    Dear Courtney

    I am not saying that I would do it, just trying to put myself in his mindset.

    He wanted the money.

    I don’t think his position has anything to do with further human rights.

    More like furthering himself.

    Sting isn’t a Clive Stafford Smith.

    Yours sincerely

    George Laird

    The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

  • brownnose

    sting aka simple simon.

    just another male escort fer hired !

    he bang that bitch googosha hard !

    she giv away all daddy state secrets-

    fer a piece of meat.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    These types of regimes – and a number of other types, less obviously oppressive but still with fossilised mindsets – are only interested in ‘art and culture’ when it serves as straight propaganda for their purposes. They like vacuous glamorous events such as fashion shows/ folk tableaux because they are non-threatening. Ideas are their enemy.

    Stalin stated that he banned Dostoevsky because (as a former published and acknwoledged poet) Stalin knew how powerful Dostoevsky’s work was in exploring the human mind.

    Clearly, Sting is not Dostoevsky.

  • GM Vancouver

    One has to wonder, where are the artists boycotting paid appearances in the torture-friendly USA?

  • Suhayl Saadi

    I remember seeing a photograph – a mug-shot – of one of the leaders of the Camorra (or perhaps it was the N’Drangheta, or the Mafia, I can’t recall now)in a book – perhaps it was Roberto Saviano’s ‘Gomorrah’ or maybe Alexander Stille’s excellent book on the Sicilian Mafia.

    He was very young, had well-groomed shoulder-length hair and had the face of an angel, such a beautiful young man, with ‘1960s Antonioni’ film-star features. He had murdered countless people and had ordered scores more.

    The gulf b/w external beauty and internal putrefaction was immense.

    I was reminded of this now, looking at the face of the Heir Apparent of Uzbekistan. Gulnar(a): Pomegranate Flower. Gul means flower and is often a prefix or suffix: Shirin Gul, Mahgul, etc. In fact, in Afghan families, it’s almost ubiquitous. Gulnar is a very common name for girls in Muslim families with Persian language antecedents.

    Why have I run off on this etymological tangent? Because when you’re constructing a fictional character, you think very long and hard about their name. The name is crucial. But of course, in real life, names are random; they tell us nothing whatsoever about the person, though perhaps, in the UK at any rate, in some cases more about their parents and social class. This does not apply in all societies.

    A thought-form or two for today:

    How many thousands of other ‘pomegranate flowers’ work themselves into bone and earth in her fields, one wonders? How much blood does she have in her body, and is it less than the amount she has on her hands?

  • Swiss Anon

    Well done Mr Murray: Sting’s incoherence has also been commented here in Switzerland, where the man has many fans -as on the rest of the planet probably, which explains a personal wealth evaluated approx £185 million.

    Since gaining a few extra quid does not seem to be such an issue, such event further illustrates if needed the discrepancy between an artist’s art and their personality. What a disappointment though.

    They burned the Beatles’ records for the “more famous than Jesus” thing. We should now burn our I-pods, or better: recycle them!

  • Suhayl Saadi

    The interaction b/w pop/ rock musicians and politics has always been an uneasy one. It may have to do with the essential nature of the cult of the icon.

    On the ‘Jesus’ point, of course there is a central difference of which I’m sure everyone’s aware; I realise Swiss Anon was not saying they were the same but it’s an interesting jumping-off point. Lennon was pointing out the decline of religion in UK society to a journalist friend at a party and its replacement with the cult of celebrity. In the UK this was self-evident; it was not a big story. The hysterical Religious Right in the USA picked it up and turned it into ‘The Crucible’, late C20th-style. The burning of Beatles’ records, effigies, etc. was an intensely regressive act. Ultimately, 14 years on, this celebrity cult/ religion interface (later explored and expanded by Lennon/ Harrison themselves) contributed to Lennon’s murder. Iain MacDonald’s superlative Introduction to ‘Revolution in the Head’ analyses this particular dynamic very well.

    Cosying-up to a bloody dictator’s heinous heir apparent is something rather different and is itself a regressive act supportive of the forces of repression.

  • bob

    Plenty of hate, uninformed ranting, Daily Mail quotations and self-righteousness. Did anyone stop to think of a constructive way to find out why a man with an active history in human rights and more money than he needs should do such a thing as this. Dig deeper and stop relying on newspapers for ‘facts’.

  • Jettexas

    What is it with these actors/actresses/singers and dictatorship envy? Now it’s hit our government in Washington DC. Obama certainly is itchin to be one!

  • Mark

    In regards to Sting….His message is loud and clear….I beleive they are definitely putting something in that Malibu drinking water. Sting has Stung the USA really good this time all the way to he bank. Or has he? Who gets some of that money on April 15? Ouch!!!

    It’s sick…

  • loli

    i guess i’m one of the few in here, who was in uzbekistan whne mr. sting came to give a concert. i’ve heard that the ticket for the concert was costing 4 million uzbek soums for the 3-7th rows, and 2 million uzbek soums for the other places. which is 2000 and 1000 USD by black market rate… TO COMPARE: 400 USd salary is considered to be very good in here…

  • Mr. Shea Brown

    It is like one of those third world oil empires buying a tennis tournament to show how lovely and civilized they are,
    while they import Philippinos to work as virtual slaves for them, and while it is against all religious laws to even wear short pants in their country, or for women to leave the house without wearing a mask,, and they only have three tennis courts in the whole country anyway . Sting plays in Uzbekistan,,,, what a whore he is,, is this a surprise ? Almost everyone has a price,, and now he can live with being a whore . Is it not so very easy to see the folks who are quite in love with themselves ? Hard to believe this is the first post,, this article appeared in Feb of 2010 ? I would love to meet the man of conscience,Craig Murray sometime. I have always considered him a most wonderful chap .

  • pilar gomez

    love of money,, above other clearly deserving considerations ( which you succintly manage to express spot on as usual ), is always a disaster. I don´t know how Sting was say fifteen years aqgo, his most activist days. I saw him in conceret in Spain a few years ago and I can tell you he disappointed a lot of the audience with his soulless, removed, withrawn performance, There was no connection with the public- I really think his mansion ( s?) have got the best of him, poor little rich man–

  • Chris

    Yes I should say Sting is mad.

    Sting is also a major proponent of the theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming, which is based on very dubious science, however despite his belief in this bad science it doesn't stop him flying around the world in a private jet.

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