Britain Boosts Karimov: Our Deep Shame 24

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.

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24 thoughts on “Britain Boosts Karimov: Our Deep Shame

  • mary

    Well said Craig.

    You are given a mention in this on medialens.

    Mandy’s Internet blocking bill to put an end to internet leaks?

    Posted by noamswampy on April 8, 2010, 10:06 am

    The bill – passed last night by our lackey parliament – is ostensibly designed to prevent theft of commercial music and video but its most significant use may well be to prevent any UK web user or website owner posting leaked material for which ‘copyright’ will almost certainly not have been acquired. For example, the recent Wikileaks footage of US miltary atrocities.

    The bill allows the gov. to block any website or webuser which infringes (or – wait for it – is ‘deemed likely to infringe’) this new law by hosting such material in the eyes of a regulator (friend of Mandy, no doubt).

    I wonder how much copyrighted material is posted (without permission) on ML every day…?

    They used the same tactic (charges of copyright infringement) to help silence Craig Murray in his efforts to expose gov. complicity in torture a few years back.



    PS Can you tell us anything about the situation in Krygystan (sp?) as it has a 10% Uzbek population according to that BBC website link I left here yesterday.

  • Michael

    Well spoken Craig

    Let’s hope the Uzbeks can follow the brave lead by the Kyrgiz and rid themselves of Karimov. It could not happen soon enough.


  • mary

    Me again!

    Another outrage, hidden away under North Yorkshire on the England webpage.

    Army builds ‘mosques’ on North Yorkshire firing range

    The MOD said the buildings ‘replicated the environment’ of Afghanistan

    A Muslim group has demanded an apology from the British Army after it emerged that replica mosques were being used on a North Yorkshire firing range.

    The chairman of the Bradford Council for Mosques (BMC) said the structures at Catterick should be taken down immediately.

    The Ministry of Defence said it had “no intention” of causing offence.


  • a friend

    Nice article.

    Isn’t it a bit funny for the FCO to talk about inter-parliamentary links?

    Makes me think of the 2009 “London Declaration”. Makes me think of Bercow’s unprecedented “manifesto” too – issued after everyone who might stand in the way got into trouble with their expenses, thank you Daily Telegraph.

    Parliaments are being changed. Only the most diehard ostrich-like loonies will continue to think that the “separation of power” has any meaning. It’s got little more meaning in the UK than in Uzbekistan.

    The Joy statement makes it absolutely clear that this inter-parliamentary stuff is a plank in, er, “foreign policy”.

    Craig – I’d be interested to hear your take on who paid for the ongoing takeover in Kyrgyzstan. Apparently the new leader has publicly promised to continue to help the Americans.

    Trouble soon in Uzbekistan? Or more likely, a spread of the Uzbek model?

    For sure, someone paid to put the crowd there and for all the men with guns.

  • anno

    Is there any point my commenting on your blog , Craig, if you delete every comment?

    Have I missed something? Is truth getting in the way of politics now that you are back on the political campaign?

  • Craig


    Actually I delteted one of your comments purely by accident while I was deleting a second one on purpose. Yours was one of three comments I deleted from this thread for introducing completely irrelevant mentions of Jews or Israel. In your case the intention was ironic, but it’s not helpful when I am trying to stop people constantly hijacking threads onto their hobby horses.

    Strange absence of New Lab apologists from this thread, mind you.

  • anno

    Thank you Craig for the explanation. Obviously I wasn’t being ironic enough, but if you get too subtle, the wrong people start agreeing with you. I don’t think your mate Charles Crawford understood my irony of comparing him with the Nazi sympathisers of the British aristocracy. Too thick-skinned. Thanks Craig.

  • glenn

    With all this “progressive legislation” Rupert Joy so fondly speaks of, I wonder why there still refugees from Uzbekistan around Europe. On 6/3/10, the BBC From Our Own Correspondent programme included a report from Monica Whitlock, who “meets refugees from a massacre in Uzbekistan trying to carve out new lives for themselves in Sweden.” The report says that Uzbekistan was, five years ago, making a rare foray into the headlines. The army had opened fire on a demonstration in Andijan, hundreds were killed. “Islamic terrorists!” the authorities claimed, while throwing out the press (including the BBC) from the country. Some of the survivors talked with Whitlock in Sweden, including a man who’s son had been shot dead. He made his way, hiding from house to house, and country to country, until the UN picked him up.

    Clearly, a country like that is moving is developing in a positive direction!

  • stephen

    I agree its not good. There is a lot to be said for diplomats (but not others btw) not saying anything at all when there is nothing nice to say.

    For all those asking about Kyrghizstan – I think they will find the position is somewhat different – they had their Tulip revolution. And I suspect that the revolt is a combination of Bakiyev who became President afterwards also being corrupt and not delivering on his promises together with a little bit of Russian stirring. Observers of the Ukraine and the other former Soviet republics will note that the Russians are becoming increasing adept at counter revolutions and other means of making those countries bend to their whims. It would be a big mistake to assume that Russia didn’t think it had a role to play in Uzbekistan.

    Craig may wish to correct me – but in human rights terms Kyrgyzstan has always been something of a paradise compared with Uzbekistan, and probably has a better record on corruption than most of its neighbours.

  • writerman

    But these kinds of speaches, the banal platitudes, the cliches, the… the nothingness… the way the language sucks the life out of meaning… the studied detachment from reality; this is what ambassadors are for, spouting this kind of stuff. It’s their job.

    One may not like it, find it highly objectionable, a waste of space, but they aren’t employed to make policy, but to serve the interests of the Crown, and that’s the government of the day. Ambassadors are servants of whoever is in charge back in London.

    Ambassadors aren’t meant to have much leeway, and certainly not ideas of their own! At the core of middle class education is the ability to serve and understand what’s wanted and expected, without people having to actually express, in words or writing, what’s required.

    It’s of paramount importance that one has the ability to read minds. It doesn’t matter much what politicians say back in London, in public, that’s just for public consumption, what matters is knowing what’s wanted and not said. In essence one has to learn to be a hypocrite and smile at the same time.

    Craig, on the other hand, took another route, and appeared to actually believe that New Labour had an ethical foreign policy and that the concept of human rights actually meant something, at least that it was more substantive than mere rhetoric.

    I’d like to think that I would have followed Craig’s path in similar circumstances. Unfortunately I, given my profile and temperament, would never have been given the chance. I would have been filtered out at a far earlier stage of the process, which is of course, how the system works.

  • anno

    1/ Lying, as you described in Mr Joy’s address, is considered inconsequential. But lying underpins the sufferings of the Uzbeks and the death of millions, through the Uzbek supply chain to Afghanistan. Anybody who lies should carefully consider the real consequences of what they think is a few trite phrases. Yesterday I heard a New Labour M.P. describe Blair’s Iraq Invasion speech as a high-spot of British parliamentary debate. All lies.

    2/ I was listening to the wash-up debates in parliament last night. If what Mary wrote is correct about New Labour squeezing anti-Internet freedom legislation through without any debate at the wash-up stage, this is an extremely serious abuse of parliamentary principles. Other measures which had been promised, dealing with cleaning up parliamentary debate, were ditched in favour of the internet bill.

    3/ I haven’t had any work or any benefits for five months because my savings exceed the limit. One of my near neighbours takes £2,000 every month net through benefits and undeclared night-work. When they needed some electrical damage repaired, they virtually burst into tears. ‘How could you impose these vast sums on me and my family?’ He asked. ‘Just cut the cables off, I don’t need them.’ They have the same amount of savings as me, I later found.

    Cheating has killed Islam in this country. Who can challenge the establishment liars if the followers of Muhammad May God’s peace and blessings be upon him, are lying. He (SAW) told us that paradise was conditional on two things, keeping chaste what was between our two legs and speaking the truth between our two lips. Not much sign of this where I’m living.

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq

    Off Topic Sorry


    Today the American president signed a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty leading the fight against nuclear proliferation. This sealing of the accord will be followed by an address at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington set for April 12-13. On that occasion, said a White House spokesperson, Obama “will present facts, not just words. What facts?

    The treaty really does nothing in terms of destructive power, tactical nukes, limiting the qualitative build-up of nuclear forces ie new build such as Boeing’s X-51 “global hypersonic missile” X-51 that will enable the Pentagon to strike any target in any part of the world in less than one hour.

    Nor does the Treaty place any restrictions on the new anti-ballistic missile “shield” project that the United States aims to deploy in Europe, along the Russian border: an offensive, and not a defensive, system which would enable the USA to launch the first strike against another country, relying on the “shield”‘s capability to neutralize any reprisals. Incidentally if Iran were actually in possession of long-range missiles and had the intention of launching them against the United States, Tehran would choose the shortest route to minimize interception hazards. Consequently, it stands to reason that the missiles would not be sent via Eastern Europe. It necessarily follows that U.S. devices in the region are serving a different purpose.

    By listening to Obama’s speech we note the real purpose of this timely Treaty is just:

    1. Conferring the right to “lead” the fight against nuclear proliferation, something that Iran has pledged for the last year and indeed has recently gathered 60 countries to a nuclear disarmament conference.

    2. The opportunity to point the finger at Iran as noted in Obama’s speech and as confirmed during the Obama-Sarkozy meeting of March 31, indicting her with the intention of developing the atomic bomb, while completely leaving Israel off the hook despite its stockpile of hundreds of nuclear weapons aimed at other countries in the region.

    Deception, deception, deception a the prelude to grab power in the Middle-East because we are tied down at the moment – nothing whatsoever to do with reducing nuclear bombs. (the State Department reckons that the United States currently has 1,762 nuclear warheads deployed on 798 carriers, versus 1,741 and 566 respectively for Russia)

    What makes me sick is the way politicians think we buy into this fucking crap like morons holding an American flag.

    Look – facts:-

    United States continue to stockpile nuclear tactical weapons in five “nuclear-free” NATO countries (Belgium, Germany, Italy, The Neterlands and Turkey) as well as in other countries, thereby violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

    Look facts:

    The new START does not limit the number of operational nuclear warheads contained in the arsenals. It only sets a limit for carrier-based “deployed nuclear warheads”, i.e. kept ready for launch, with a range greater than 5 500 km: land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, ballistic missiles launched from submarines and from heavy bombers.

    The true scenario is America and Britain are in an economic crisis and must reach an agreement with Russia to slow down the arms race and reduce the ensuing defense budget increases.

    The Iraq and Afghanistan wars have stretched our resources and we cannot deal effectively with Iran until America pulls her forces out in 2011.

    Israel cannot hit Iran on her own.


  • arsalan

    Craig My post was to the point.

    It was refering to the type of democracy that the west allows in the Muslim world. one where who is elected is controlled.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Stephen, were you in the FCO or similar? Just asking. I don’t know much about Kyrghizstan, though I have a black-and-white tea-cosy-shaped hat from there which I bought from a stall at an international craft fair at the Folk Museum (Lok Virsa) in Islamabad some years ago. Even I who sometimes undertake quasi-anthropological in vivo experiments with headgear, have not had the courage to wear it out-of-doors.

    I agree, the speech to which Craig refers was cringe-worthy at best and shameful at worst. Silence would not have been the best policy, but (realistically, all over the world which ambassador would do what Craig did?) it would’ve been better than praise where none is due and solidarity when such is deeply questionable.

  • mary

    This is another opinion on the Digital

    Economy Act from a medialens contibutor.

    Digital economy bill – threat to free expression online

    Posted by Tim Holmes on April 8, 2010, 5:38 pm

    Just had a look over coverage of this bill. Has some troubling implications. Lib Dems are pointing out that Clause 8 could give the Government power to block Google, or Wikileaks (or indeed Youtube, it occurred to me), subject to a High Court decision. It would also mean that if Media Lens were to quote a journalist from a particularly recalcitrant publication, successful legal challenges on the basis of copyright law could effectively allow the Government to shut the entire site down. That in turn means that pre-emptive self-censorship could have a serious “chilling effect” on free speech online, in other words. Not good.


    I watched the ceremony in the Lords where all these bills (seemingly dozens) were nodded through into law. “La reine le veult” – and they’re on the statute book. Very undemocratic. We shall probably find out later what effect they have on our lives and liberties.

  • Stephen

    Stephen, were you in the FCO or similar?

    No – but I have suffered their bureaucracy and the generally poor/non existent support they provide to the commercial world. I have also had a number of friends who worked for the FCO/DFID.

    I think any ambassador who had told the truth about Karimov would pretty soon be the ex Ambassador – and wouldn’t be in the position to achieve much in what is nevertheless a necessary role e.g in supporting the claims of asylum seekers and helping to relieve other suffering on the ground. The role of complaining perhaps belongs to others.

    PS I have an Uzbek hat but only wear it indoors for the children.

  • anno

    Speaking for myself only, I spend a lot of time here trying to express my indignation at my government following the agenda of other countries at the expense of the UK’s best interests.

    If a large block of voters stated that they would not vote for anybody who voted for attacking Iraq or Afghanistan, the political parties would have to turn their attention to that group’s demands.

    Secondly, Alistair Darling said that one pound in four of government revenues came from taxes on banking. Would that be 28% of the profits on usury? Whatever the figures are, it’s clear that the British taxpayer is paying V-A-S-T sums to the banking industry, which in turn can use that financial power, and its fiscal usefulness to the Treasury, to influence government policy.

    We should USE democracy as it is our only civic right to influence our leaders. We should BAN usury, if we want parliament to return to representing our interests and not just bankers’.

    Political liars have all the blood of our recent overseas violence ghoullishly

    dripping from their mercenary maws.

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq


    Thanks for reminding me of this bill that will use ‘copyright’ law to stifle freedom of speech by imposing a law that could affect the on-line presence in the UK of sites such as the excellent Swedish WikiLeaks. To block an IP in that way reminds us of the Google episode with China that Conservative MP’s condemned. What hypocrisy!!

    I wonder who will decide on the “serious adverse effects” and “provide evidence” that a “substantial amount of material has been, is being, or is likely to be made available in infringement of copyright?”

    My guess is they will use fortune tellers.

    Vote Liberal Democrats – preserve the freedom of the Web!!!

  • Clark


    can the government block the Internet? I didn’t think it was possible without big technical changes, such as in China. So presumably they’d prosecute the web hosts. But sites can be hosted outside the UK. So then they’d have to prosecute the individual writers. That would get the issues into the courts, and produce mainstream media coverage. It would start to run up huge legal bills that would themselves become news.

    This looks like badly thought out legislation, a rush-job.

    Yeah, vote Lib-Dem. Watch your local opinion poll to see who stands a chance.

    “Oppose the Big Two!”

  • Andy Keen

    I have written to Mr. Joy citing the UN Committee report’s conclusions, and asking if he can point me to any real evidence that there is any genuine improvement in human rights or political democracy in Uzbekistan.

  • hi there

    The hat maketh the man?

    I thought it was “manners makyth man” in the senior reaches of the FCO, DFID, UKT&I, that place south of the river, etc.

    Or, with apologies to Le Carre and his “Our Game”, did you mean it’s the “strat” that makes the man? 🙂

  • shahida Tulaganova

    Outrageous! I’m speechless. Well written, Craig, thanks for bring this up. It will be very helpful when I talk to British journos who want to cover Uzbekistan…

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