the Disillusioned kid: Return Of The Ambassador: Episode II
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Monday, October 18, 2004

Return Of The Ambassador: Episode II

I noted on Wednesday that the British ambassador to Uzbekistan was likely to have his security clearance withdrawn, effectively removing him from his post. It was not, then, a great surprise to read in the Guardian on Friday that he had been dismissed from the role "as the Foreign Office claimed its ministers and his colleagues no longer had confidence in him." The move is the culmination of the struggle between London and Murray who has been an embarrassment, vocally criticising the human rights abuses of Uzbekistan's government, an ally in the "War on Terror":
"What I have been told about why I have to leave Tashkent is that the publicity surrounding my position would make my return impossible," he told the Guardian. "I have not been told as to why in any great detail."

He said it was clear from his conversation with his employers that the Uzbek government had been informed of the FO's decision before he was. "My immediate reaction was bitter disappointment. I intend to sue them for the damage to my health".
The Foreign Office have previously claimed that they are concerned about human rights abuses in the country and that Murray is merely expressing government policy. It has been obvious for a long time that this position was disingenuous, but Murray's dismissal makes it clear for anyone in any doubt.

At the ESF over the weekend, I attended a meeting organised by Amnesty International and others about the death penalty in Uzbekistan and China, although the focus was very much on the former. Among the speakers were two representatives of Mothers Against the Death Penalty and Torture in Uzbekistan. One was a woman who's son had been arrested for a murder he didn't commit. He had been tortured and signed a confession when his captors threatened to beat his mother. After a sham trial he had been sentenced to death and subsequently killed. His mother was not informed of the execution until it had happened and she still does not know where he is buried as the authorities will not tell her. The other lady had a brother who had been accused of terrorism and was currently on death row. On one occasion he had been beaten so badly that when she visited him she didn't even recognise him. His conviction also impacted on her as recent laws make family members responsible for the actions of relatives and she was essentially prevented from getting a job. Both gave powerful, moving talks about the country's brutal regime and its human rights abuses.

During the question and answer section towards the end of the talk someone mentioned Murray's dismissal. The two ladies said that British citizens should be proud of Craig Murray who had felt the pain of ordinary people in Uzbekistan and that everyone who had met him agreed that he was a man of honour. Murray represents the kind of person we should have shaping foreign policy if talk about "hearts and minds" is anything more than vacuous rhetoric. We may not be able to get him back into his job, but writing to your MP and expressing your concerns about his dismissal might discourage the Foreign Office from acting in a similar way in the future. If nothing else, it presents a chance to give Murray the recognition he deserves.

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