Happy Birthday To Me 166

I am 54 today! That sounds really old, but I can honestly say that I feel as young and hopeful, and my mind feels as open and agile, as when I was twenty. I undoubtedly know a lot more, but I don’t confuse that with wisdom.

I am in a hotel in Ghana and sad to be apart from family today. I have been taking stock a little this morning and my greatest disappointment is that I have not been able to change things in Uzbekistan, or in Western government’s attitude to Uzbekistan.

1.4 million Uzbek children are today working in regime forced labour in the Uzbek cotton fields. They work at physically very tough labour for twelve hours a day in conditions identical to those in which black slave workers suffered in the Southern United States 200 years ago – indeed several US slaveowners would have scrupled at the wholesale use of children as young as eight in the fields, as is done by the Uzbek government. They sleep in barracks on concrete floors, live on weak vegetable soup and drink dirty water from the irrigation ditches.

Of course it is not only children who are forced into the fields, and the system requires extreme compulsion. On October 6 in Kashkadarya 18 year old Navruz Islamov was beaten to death by police for attempting to leave a cotton field when suffering from sunstroke. There are scores more such instances we do not hear about.

I have never felt so outraged as I did two years ago, when a European Commission official told me that the EU would not act on child labour in Uzbekistan as there was “no official evidence” of the preactice, only “rumour”. This year – with the active connivance of EU nation state diplomats in Tashkent, particularly the German Ambassador -the Uzbek Government for the third successive year refused a request from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to visit Uzbekistan to monitor child labour in the cotton harvest. At the same time, the EU says it will not act without this report from the ILO.

This is also the position of the British Government, which has never made a single comment or statement on child labour in Uzbekistan (except by me while Ambassdaor). Indeed the coalition government has never made any statement on human rights in Uzbekistan at all, having no interest in the fate of its 8,000 political prisoners and ever-lengthening list of tortured and killed by the British “ally”, President Karimov.

Cuba has just announced the abolition of exit visas. Uzbekistan is now one of a tiny number of extreme regimes which still locks its people in, retaining the old Soviet exit visa system. The Cameron/Clegg government refuses to raise this with the Uzbek regime.

Britain and the EU are again selling weapons and providing military and secret service training to the Karimov regime, and the UK, US and other NATO countries are negotiating to “Gift” huge amounts of arms and military materiel to Karimov as they withdraw from Afghanistan. Nobody in the West, and particularly in the Western media, appears to have any interest at all in our collusion with the most repressive and corrupr regime in the world.

I won’t have a really happy birthday until Uzbekistan is free. The good news is that I am confident I will have a lot of happy birthdays in a free Uzbekistan in the future.

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166 thoughts on “Happy Birthday To Me

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  • nuid

    “I am 54 today! That sounds really old”

    No, it doesn’t. Not when you’re my age.
    Happy birthday, Craig.

  • ucythediclonius

    HAppy birthday Craig.Glad to see your on good form.You should learn how to recover that state at will.

  • JimmyGiro

    How embarrassing, It’s my birthday today as well [52].

    My older sister sent me a card with a tenner in it, I’m sure she does that to annoy me.


  • nevermind

    Happy birthday Craig and Jimmy, young men…. may you reach a much older age than me, one day….

  • Sanjar

    Thank you for your great concern about my country ambassador, hopefully we’ll celebrate your birthday there in near future, i’ll keep my fingers crossed.

  • John Goss

    You’re a good man Craig Murray. One day Uzbekistan residents will be free to thank you for your efforts. Even when success is not forthcoming in the short term it is still important to keep trying. Your efforts are well-known. Perhaps this particular birthday present will come another day. Anyway, happy birthday.

  • Jerome

    Every weekend i used to visit this web site, as i want enjoyment, as this this web site conations truly good funny stuff too.

  • Dave

    Happy Birthday! For such injustices to be dealt with the now rigged system of bought politics and well vetted sociopaths being the only ones getting anywhere near power has to change. We need a million more voices like yours actually making it into mainstream media. We need new respected media sources through the internet and we need new political parties instead of going through another generational change to retake the two main ones we’re stuck with. Good luck and enjoy a good whiskey later.

  • eas

    Happy Birthday Craig and many of them.
    Many thanks for your wonderful gift to us. Your Blog is the greatest.

  • Tom Welsh

    Happy birthday, Craig, and many happy returns! I’m exactly 10 years older than you; it’s funny how many of your readers make you look like a teenager. Don’t give up on Uzbekistan: you never know when the water will finally eat through the stone wall. Today a drop or two of damp; next week, maybe a trickle; in a year or so, a steady gush; and one day the whole thing will come down.

    You wrote ‘I have never felt so outraged as I did two years ago, when a European Commission official told me that the EU would not act on child labour in Uzbekistan as there was “no official evidence” of the practice, only “rumour”’.

    That is of course always the way with officials. All they need do is make sure they never see any “official evidence”, which can easily be acocmplished by not collecting any. Just as they can exempt anyone they wish from the workings of the criminal justice system, simply by determining (by some mysterious process) that “a prosecution would not be in the public interest”. Everything is fair, honest, and transparent, except when it’s not.

  • Ken

    Happy Birthday, Craig, and remember that a man is only as old as the woman he feels. On that basis…

  • Frazer

    Happy birthday mate…now away down to the Lambadi Beach Hotel and settle in for a round of the true nectar of the gods !!

  • Komodo

    I look forward to Fox suing Boulter. They’re a pair of bloody rogues and they deserve each other. But I bet Boulter knows where the bodies are buried. And the police are still investigating Werritty. Wonder what’s taking them so long. Maybe they haven’t found him yet?

    City of London police have confirmed they are still investigating allegations of fraud surrounding Werritty, Fox’s best man and former flatmate, who handed out business cards falsely describing him as one of Fox’s official advisers.

    A lawyer who represents Werritty failed to respond to requests for comment.

    You can look back with pride on your coverage of that episode, Craig.

  • Michael Culver

    Happy Birthday Craig.I am 20 years older and I never expected to hear anyone who had been in public office speak the truth.Karimov makes Saddam look like a teddy bear but of course the Bliar goes toadying up to him,how much longer will we allow sociopaths to govern? There will be no Chilcot report or not in any form that might make any difference, meanwhile the children of Fallujah go on being born with hideous deformities and to the end of time. Sorry, the horror of this country’s sadism is difficult to absorb but please do have a v h b !

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