I urge you to read the full text of this speech by the current British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Rupert Joy.
Delivered in what is undoubtedly one of the most vicious and ruthless dictatorships in the world, there is not the slightest hint that Britain finds anything to criticise in Karimov’s Uzbekistan. This is of a piece with recent Home Office claims that there is no human rights problem in Uzbekistan.
Those who have read Murder in Samarkand will know that I was under pressure from the FCO to promote “reforms” by the Karimov regime to justify our alliance with Uzbekistan, even though those reforms were entirely sham.
Joy servilely intones:
“Your parliamentary institutions are developing in a positive direction. We want to support that development through closer parliamentary links with Britain, which has one of the world’s oldest parliaments.”
[FACT – only five fake parties which support Karimov are allowed to take part in parliamentary elections. All three main opposition parties are banned. The OSCE condemned the latest Uzbek parliamentary elections as offering no real choice to the electorate. There is no debate in the Uzbek parliament.]
“We want to support Uzbekistan in areas where it has introduced progressive legislation, such as habeas corpus and the abolition of the death penalty.”
[FACT Uzbekistan is quite happy to appease its US and UK allies by introducing entirely fake reforms. Habeas Corpus is simply ignored by the Uzbek judiciary, which the UN Committee on Human Rights recently affirmed had no independence. The abolition of the death penaly has no meaning in a country where regime opponents disappear and where families are not informed of date of execution or burial place, as again recently reaffirmed by the UN committee. Uzbekistan has 10,000 political prisoners].
The alliance with Karimov is a deep shame to this country. The UK , US and other NATO countries seek to deepen it still further as Uzbekistan becomes the major transit route for supplies to NATO forces in Afghanistan. A railway link is being built to Mazar i Sharif specifically to upgrade the already massive military trafiic by truck. The construction and shipping contracts for NATO supplies are being given to private companies owned by the Karimov family.
Rather than human rights, the main burden of Joy’s speech is on cooperation on “counter-terrorism” and Afghanistan – which all Uzbeks will know is code for unflinching Western support for the Karimov dictatorship:
“If anyone still believed that Britain’s security depended solely on traditional defence, their illusion was shattered on 11th September 2001, when al-Qaida attached New York and Washington, killing thousands of innocent people. Those terrorist attacks, and the murderous attacks that followed in London, Madrid and elsewhere, demonstrated that our physical security depends on working with other governments to fight extremism”
“Fighting extremism” is of course how Karimov characterises his outlawing and extermination of any domestic democratic opposition.
The FCO seeks to sweep away past criticism of Uzbekistan’s appalling human rights record as having been a “Misunderstanding”. This is perhaps the most nauseous passage of Joy’s appalling licking of Karimov’s arse.
“Our two countries have not always understood one another well enough. That is not surprising. We are far apart: my country is an island; yours is double-landlocked. And we have had very different histories. But the peoples of our countries have much to gain from deeper engagement”
You see, if we just understood each other better, we will realise why President Karimov is forced to boil people alive.
This speech really is deeply, deeply shameful if you think of the context of the totalitarian regime in which it was spoken. It also puts to bed the lie that New Labour supported my actions on human rights in the country.