UKzbekistan, Part 2.
The ever worthwhile UK Watch has the transcript of a speech by former British Amabassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray, famously ejected from his post for speaking out on human rights abuses in the country:
I’ll concentrate this evening on the remit I was given – what the West has done wrong, in my view, what we should be doing to put it right. I’ll start off with just a couple of facts. The first one comes from Human Rights Watch’s report on the Andijan massacre, which I’d recommend to you. They interviewed over fifty eye-witnesses; it’s a very good report. And it wasn’t just that the crowds were fired on, and fired on continually, and chased and fired on as they ran, on the May 13th, but afterwards Babur Square, where the main massacre happened, was sealed and the wounded were left lying, left overnight with no care, no attention, no medical treatment. And the next morning troops walked through the wounded finishing them off with shots to the head.But don't worry. The British Government is hard at work doing all it can to achieive regime change:
To anyone who knows Uzbekistan it is conceivable, though extremely unlikely, that troops could have opened fire on the 13th due to some situation that developed and got out of control locally. But it is completely inconceivable that twenty-four hours later troops would be walking through the streets shooting people without having authority right from the top of what is an extremely efficient totalitarian dictatorship.
One of the Uzbek opposition leaders, a gentleman who’s in exile, Muhammed Salih, fought the only vaguely democratic election that President Karimov has ever faced when he opposed him in the presidential election in, I think, ’92. It wasn’t a very democratic election. The media was 100% government controlled. Salih had no access and no coverage except complete vilifications. His supporters were subject to violence and arrest and the polls were rigged in every conceivable way. He still officially got about 15% of the vote, which was quite extraordinary in the circumstances. He now lives in exile in Germany.And there's more.
Last August when I was still British Ambassador I suggested that we invited him to the Foreign Office to perhaps meet a junior minister or senior officials. My suggestion was greeted with stunned horror in the Foreign Office, where I was told – Did I not know that he’d been convicted of terrorism? I said, ‘nobody, but nobody, believes Muhammed Salih is a terrorist. It’s a propaganda conviction.’ The Foreign Office checked with its research analysts, who confirmed that absolutely nobody thinks Muhammed Salih is a terrorist. I was then told that OK, he may not be a terrorist but he has been convicted of terrorism and therefore it would be awful insulting to President Karimov, were we to speak to him. And I was also told off for having even suggested it, and Muhammed Salih was not invited to meet anyone in the Foreign Office.
Subsequently last autumn, PEN, the campaign group for imprisoned writers, and the BBC World Service, invited Muhammed Salih to the UK anyway, and the government refused him a visa. They did so on the grounds that he might seek to illegally immigrate here. The facts are that he already has political asylum in Germany, he lives in Germany with his family, he speaks German and he doesn’t speak English – but it was plainly just not on to have anyone from the democratic Uzbek opposition walking around the streets of London, because it might upset our dear friend Mr Karimov. And to my knowledge still to this day, certainly since September 11th 2001, neither ministers nor senior officials in the Foreign Office have met anyone from the Uzbek opposition.
This is not typical of the way the Foreign Office works. The Foreign Office is usually very open to meeting democratic opposition figures from dictatorial states. And I give it to you as an example of the way the Foreign Office’s attitude, the British Government’s attitude to Uzbekistan does not stand up anywhere near official British Government policy on democracy and human rights.