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.

166 thoughts on “Happy Birthday To Me

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  • Gary

    Well done for this post Craig. Personally this is where you are at you finest as what you tried to do there was very brave. I totally share your feelings. It is heart breaking that the Western world turns a blind eye for strategic reasons. If you want cheering up even more, check out Gulnara’s song and video round run. It is quite simply hilarious. Best wishes.m

  • Suhayl Saadi

    I agree, Courtenay, October is the month!

    Mary, O Seeress of the Boards, prithee gaze into thy (radiological) crystal ball and tell me what the outlook is for someone born on the Libra/Scorpio cusp! Confusion, rather than Confucius, one suspects.

  • Simon Dempsey

    May God richly bless you Craig especially today. I hope and Prayer that in your lifetime you will see the liberation of Uzbekistan.(Luke2:25-30)

  • Yonatan

    Hippo Berth Day Two Ewes.

    Karimov may be a bastard, but he is apparently ‘our bastard’, at least currently. No doubt, sometime in the near future, he will cease to be ‘our bastard’ and the Uzbeks will have ‘democracy’ imposed on them (may the FSM help the Uzbeks either way). Which leads me to:

    I am surprised there has been no comment on Applegategate – Applegate being an ex-MOD head of procurement who has moved on to Big Things (h/t Richard Silverstein).


    “He [Applegate] confided that he used Westminster Connection, a discreet lobbying firm with Israeli links as a “firebreak” to ensure “that my fingerprints weren’t over any of it.” It could gain access to anyone “from the prime minister down.” He said the firm, based in Victoria and co-owned by Scott Hamilton, a former Conservative staffer, had used links with Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) to persuade MPs in the Commons to assist in his campaign.”

    So now, even (some of)the military now trough away Blair-style.

    Were Werritty and/or Fox in on the deal? Where is Werritty?

  • BrianFujisan

    amazing how many Librans come here eh…its my birthday too..the big 50…
    We are force-fed lies about Afghanistan…Mega lies about Irag…And Lybya..Ans now Syria…and yet they Know that the Massacre in Andijan…did happen…and what do we hear from politicians anywhere about this ?

    I once watched an undercover documentary about child labour in the uzbek cotton fields…the footage is out there..So the lying bastards DO have evidence…i cant track the documentary down…I wonder if the more resourceful Mary could have a try at finding it…it was on tv a few years ago..

    Anyway…Happy Birthday Craig….

  • Courtenay Barnett


    ” someone born on the Libra/Scorpio cusp! Confusion, rather than Confucius”

    Not taking myself too seriously. Not really into astrology.

    Who knows what the stars direct when same shine down on our birthday.

    The stars seems to have done good by Murray – made him a fighter for justice.

    Two death threats and an indication of arson later, I guess there must be a little bit of truth in the Libran “scales of justice” symbol.

    Mr. Murray deserves all the support we can muster – and so too does Julian Assange just now.

    Aluta continua!

  • John Robertson

    Happy Birthday young fella (from down under). Admire your work greatly.

    JR (hatched 1937)

  • glenn

    Jeez… makes me feel like a kid reading this blog!

    Happy birthday, Craig. Hope you enjoyed your visit here – you never did give me your verdict on the Penderyn 🙂

  • Canexpat

    Craig, you are a good man. I am also a daily visitor to this site, and greatly value your perspective. Your comments, and those of your regular posters have given me a rapid and sorely needed education over the last year or so. Happy Birthday, and thanks again from the land of the Harperite barbarians.

  • Jives

    I may be very wrong,i may be naive BUT>

    I feel a major change is occurring.Perhaps its written astrologically or ethically-i can’t say.Perhaps it’s just human decency,after all?

    Last coupla days…May gives McKinnona break,The Savile story coming to the fore and established rocks are being overturned.Mitchell and his “plebs” being called…

    It seems to me like something better is in the air?The battle between Good and Evil is perennial but i sense a shift.

    I can’t really explaint it.Perhaps its simply a change of the guard but it feels like some better souls within the Establishment are speaking out,pushing the riff…for a better world.It feels like some kinda exorcism/pureification is occurring.

    I do hope so..

  • Mark Golding - Children of Conflict

    As predicted the IMI iron fist of interception and control is closing in on the lives of us folk:

    In a duo act of people power control, ‘web snooping’ filters at GCHQ are enhanced by the shadow of the myopic drone…

    Remember Conservative MP Damien Green? Winding back to 2008, we recall his counter-terrorist style arrest, the invasion of his constituency office, the march of heavy boots into his Parliamentary office by the authoritarian bullheads of Special Branch officers.

    He is now the Home Office Minister of State for Police and Criminal Justice and the ‘Emporer of Drones’ protégé.

    He proposes a web of police drone airports throughout England to launch their Machiavellian sentient spies into the sky like ‘sentinel machines.

    Will you take the red or the blue pill?


  • Vronsky

    “amazing how many Librans come here ”

    I don’t believe in astrology. We Pisceans never do.

  • oddie

    am sure some ghanian friends know how to celebrate a birthday. twould be nice to be there. hope u had a good one.

  • Mary

    This might be of interest to Craig and others.

    17 October 2012.

    In a report published today – FCO’s Human Rights Work in 2011 – the Foreign Affairs Committee argues that Ministers should be bolder in acknowledging contradictions between the UK’s interests overseas and its human rights values.

    Report: FCO’s Human Rights Work in 2011
    Inquiry: Human Rights
    Foreign Affairs Committee


  • Mary

    Note that St Theresa has kicked the subject of the Olympics G4S contract and how much they contributed for the extra police and military costs into the long grass. Unless we have access to LOGOC’s accounts, how will we ever know the facts?

    Questions to the Home Secretary 15 October 2012

    Mr Gerry Sutcliffe (Bradford South) (Lab): Has there been full cost recovery from G4S for its Olympic failure, including costs in respect of the other forces involved—the armed forces and the police? What penalties has G4S paid?

    Mrs May:G4S was absolutely clear that it would pay for the extra costs involved in the military and police services. As the hon. Gentleman suggests, the police moved in to take over part of the venue security at a number of sites across the country. Exactly how much G4S will pay as a result of its contract is a matter of commercial negotiation with the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, with which G4S held the contract.

    PS May is good at picking up freebies including one from Michael Hintze, another from Bearwood (a Lord Ashcroft company) and several discount cards for her shoes and clothes.

  • Komodo

    Re drones (Mark Golding’s link, above):

    The Home Office minister said that remotely controlled drones in the UK’s skies should be treated like “any other piece of police kit.”


    Green was speaking at launch of a new National Police Air Service (NPAS). He said: “Where it’s appropriate or proportionate to use them then we will look at using them.

    “But they need to be treated the same as any other piece of police equipment or police activity.

    “They should only be used when it’s appropriate and proportionate to do so.”

    Appropriate and proportionate use of police equipment here:


    Lost count of the times I have assumed a blind guy with a white stick was a ninja warrior about to create kendo mayhem.

    Maybe I need my eyes tested.

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