Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Uzbekistan: Ally in war on terror: "Six hours after Jamal Mirsaidov met with the British ambassador, the limp and mutilated corpse of his grandson was dumped on his doorstep. The body was battered and one arm appeared to have been immersed in boiling fluid until the skin had begun to peel off. Mirsaidov is a literature professor in the ancient city of Samarkand. His mistake had been to write a letter to Tony Blair and George Bush alerting them to the daily torture meted out to dissidents in Uzbekistan, their new ally in the war on terror."

"[British Ambassador] Murray has paid a more direct price for his decision to step out of the bubble of isolation and immunity in which most diplomats live and challenge such abuses. His distinctly undiplomatic assessment of Uzbekistan's human rights record propelled him into a lengthy battle with the Foreign Office. He was subjected to a humiliating disciplinary investigation, had his personal life publicly shredded and suffered a string of health problems. He became the rogue ambassador. Not so much Our Man in Tashkent as Our Uzbekistan Problem."

"In 2002, $79 million went to the Uzbekistani security forces and law enforcement (in 2002, the US aid budget to Uzbekistan was $220 million in total) - the same people whom the State Department accused of "using torture as a routine investigation technique". Murray has plenty of first-hand evidence of the Uzbekistani's "routine methods". Sitting in the plush living room of his ambassadorial residence, he tells me: "People come to me very often after being tortured. Normally this includes homosexual and heterosexual rape of close relatives in front of the victim; rape with objects such as broken bottles; asphyxiation; pulling out of fingernails; smashing of limbs with blunt objects; and use of boiling liquids including complete immersion of the body. This is not uncommon. Thousands of people a year suffer from this torture at the hands of the authorities."

To condemn Saddam vociferously for his 'rape rooms' and non-existent 'mass graves' and yet to say nothing about the barbrous torture regime of Uzbekistan is a classic example of hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is important, because is reveals the stated motives for some action are not the real motives, which begs the question of what the real motives are. The real motives are, of course, strategic, financial, economic, state, political, military. And it is inevitable what the outcome of such motives combined with great power will be. As Chomsky has said, Washington is the world capital of terrorism.

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