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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  • kevin

    Many happy returns sir.
    I would recommend learning about fibonacci sequencing in Your 55th year.
    Thank You for all You have done, and will do, well done.

  • Lastbluebell

    Just a curious sidetrack into the realm of probability. I don’t know how well known this is, but for those who are unaware,

    You only need to gather 23 people in a room, for it to be a 50% chance, that at least two people of those 23, will actually have the same birthday.

  • nuid

    “FBI foils FBI plot, says FBI”

    At least the comments on this story in the Guardian show that not everyone is a gullible idiot:

    “New York Federal Reserve ‘bomb’ plotter ensnared in FBI sting”

    I take the time to read comments (when I can) as they are often quite heartening. I suspect, though, that I’m referring to British ones, and not the American ones. The IDs don’t always make clear.

  • Komodo

    …learning about fibonacci sequencing in Your 55th year

    You can leave it till you’re 89. Trust me.

  • Vronsky

    “You can leave it till you’re 89. Trust me.”

    But you probably shouldn’t leave it any longer…

  • MJ

    I had the foresight to learn about it when I was one. It was a very eventful year as I recall.

  • Clydebuilt

    Happy Birthday Craig!

    Question Time from Glasgow

    David Dimbleby (Unionist)

    Ruth Davidson (Tory, Unionist)
    Margaret Curran (Labour, Unionist)
    Alan Cochrane (Tory, Unionist)
    Mark Serwotka (Socialist,Unionist?)

    Nicola Sturgeon (SNP Nationalist)

    Media making shure everyone in Scotland hears how dreadfully bad
    Scotland is doing relative to England in employment figures.
    However it’s the usual scaremongeriong bollocks

    The Office of National Statistics – Labour Market Statistics for Oct 2012 (UK Gov’s own figures) have the following unemployment figures:
    North-East England 9.9%
    The Humber 9.3%
    London 8.9%
    West Midlands 8.6%
    North-West England 8.4%
    Wales 8.3%
    Scotland 8.2%

  • Mary

    Some of those on the green benches are now slow to work out how to rip us off.

    MPs’ expenses scandal: bid to block details of expenses scandal ‘doomed to failure’
    The Speaker of the House of Commons’ attempt to block details about MPs’ expenses is “doomed to failure,” according to the former Home Secretary.



    Dozens of MPs have moved into new rented accommodation in the past two years. According to official records, Liam Fox, the former defence secretary, rented out his home in south London in September last year, and is now claiming £1,900 a month to rent accommodation in London.

    Chris Bryant, a shadow minister for borders and immigration, has rented out his mansion flat in Bloomsbury and claimed £2,050 for a month’s rent in the last period for which data have been published.

    Recent figures showed that a quarter of Conservative MPs were renting out properties.

    MPs’ expenses are rising again after the 2009 scandal.

    The bill went up by a quarter to nearly £90 million last year, which means that it is only slightly lower than before the scandal.

  • Mark Golding - Children of Conflict

    Nicely picked up Nuid – yes a ‘sting’ is very close to a false-flag – it just takes a few whispers to cross the line into deception.

    We have seen this kind of things many times before. Back in 2009,Hosam Maher Husein Smadi, a 19 year old Jordanian immigrant was arrested in connection with a plot to bomb a Dallas skyscraper. In October 2010, a Pakistani born American citizen was arrested forplotting to carry out terror attacks on the D.C. subway system, also as the result of an FBI sting operation. The following month, the FBI nabbed 19-year-old Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a Somali-American who thought he was engaging in a conspiracy to detonate a bomb during the lighting of the public Christmas Tree in Portland, Oregon thanks to a sting operation. And, last September, an FBI sting operation ensnared Rezwan Ferdaus in a plot to bomb targets in the Washington, D.C. area.

  • Pee

    I was on a trip to Uzbekistan, October two years ago. Lots of people toiling in the cotton fields including lots of children – you can’t ignore it….adjacent to the main road with tourist buses passing all the time. These kids looked about 10-12 years old.

  • Mary

    All the blood has dried into the sand and dust by now and the body parts disintegrated so the delegates will not have anything upsetting to see.

    Middle East open for business

    Gulf Oil & Gas Cruise

    3rd Basra Oil & Gas Conference

  • guano

    I do not think anybody is stupid enough to walk into a terrorist sting. Islam is full of people who sell people. They find people to fight proxy wars = so-called Al Qaida. They find people who will play a role in a sting-drama for cash. They find people whose private lives are recorded by spying who feel obliged to prove their Islamic credentials by doing dangerous things.

    If the Muslims didn’t trade in other Muslims, it would be very hard for [Hollywood] the White House to stage these stings.

  • Vronsky

    David Dimbleby (Unionist)/Ruth Davidson (Tory, Unionist)/Margaret Curran (Labour, Unionist)/Alan Cochrane (Tory, Unionist)/Mark Serwotka (Socialist,Unionist?)/
    Nicola Sturgeon (SNP Nationalist)”

    Massive over-representation of the Separatist point of view there. I’m shocked. They don’t usually do that.

  • nuid


    Yes, one assumes the FBI have to justify their budget. And the American people have to be kept afraid – of ‘something’ under the bed. It’s a disgrace. Most “terrorists” arrested by the FBI in recent times were people they (FBI) set up themselves.


    Muslims walking into FBI stings recently in the U.S. give the media the opportunity to use scary “terrorist” headlines. I think many of these poor sods are “not too bright” and even sometimes mentally ill or unstable.

    This young Bangladeshi has now been charged with attempting to use a WMD – even though it was provided by the FBI and it was a dud. It would be laughable if it wasn’t so sad. It is morally perverse.

  • Abe Rene

    Happy Birthday! The news about the enslavement of children in Uzbekistan is terrible, and I have written to my MP about it.

  • Ben Franklin (Anti-intellectual Colonial American Savage version)


    ” They find people who will play a role in a sting-drama for cash. ”

    Or true believers, or the Muslim who have a need for atonement. Some have been coerced with threats to their family.

    One thing is certain, like the sorcerer’s apprentice, the US can’t stop breeding more brooms of vengeance.

  • Rob

    “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”.”

    Presumably this species of self-interested denial now has its own technical name: the “Savile Gambit”.

  • lysias

    Five new victims have come forward claiming that they were abused at the Haut de la Garenne orphanage on Jersey by Jimmy Savile. Jimmy Savile accused of Jersey abuse by a total of five people. At least one of these is male, and he says he was abused as a 10-year-old boy. So it looks like not all Savile’s pedophile acts were heterosexual.

    Meanwhile, speaking of Jersey, Greg Palast is reporting that a bunch of vulture capitalists, operating together with Mitt Romney, bought control of the Delphi auto parts company, moved all the factories to China, and moved corporate headquarters to Jersey. Mitt Romney’s Bailout Bonanza .

  • Rose

    I’ve just watched, sickened on BBC news, William Hague celebrating “our next generation of spies” as he observes lovely bright kids in some school somewhere doing maths. The obscenity of that is gut-wrenching.
    This should probably be posted on the Malala thread – but it’s all of a piece. I’m in despair.

  • Sean

    Many happy returns I come often to listen and learn. from yourself and others. many thanks to all

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ John Goss,

    ” Courtenay, I thought I’d mention because you might not know, but when I click on your web link it does not work.”

    Yep – I will have the web master deal with it in a while.



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