THE WISDOM FUND: News & Views
May 15, 2005
The Independent (UK)

Massacre in Uzbekistan

Up to 500 protesters feared dead. Ex-ambassador accuses UK of failing democracy movement.

by Stephen Khan, Francis Elliott, and Peter Boehm

Hundreds of protesters are reported to have been gunned down in bloody clashes with government forces that have ravaged eastern Uzbekistan.

One human rights observer in the eastern city of Andizhan said that up to 500 people may have perished in the shootings and the gun battles that followed. A doctor spoke of "many, many dead", witnesses said 200 to 300 people were shot dead, and an AP reporter saw at least 30 bodies in Andijan. As night fell, tension was high, with armoured vehicles positioned at crossroads and trucks blocking main thoroughfares. Terrified demonstrators tried to flee the country, seen as a key ally by Britain and the US in the war on terror.

As blood-spattered bodies were lifted from the streets of Andizhan, survivors and thousands of others packed their bags and headed for neighbouring Kyrgyzstan. Some made it across the border and were in refugee camps.

In a severe rebuke to London and Washington's approach to the region, Britain's former ambassador to the country yesterday said the countries had swallowed Uzbek propaganda that sought to portray the democracy movement as a brand of Islamic extremism. . . .

Craig Murray told the IoS that the Government had to take some responsibility for the unfolding events because it had failed to support those trying to oppose the dictatorship of President Islam Karimov. . . .

Sir Menzies Campbell, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, said, "Rather than use force to impose democracy, as in Iraq, should we not be more assiduous in promoting democratic movements in countries like Uzbekistan?" . . .

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"Uzbekistan: Human Rights Overview," Human Rights Watch

[It is a very active site supporting OPERATION Enduring Freedom. Thousands of service members (mostly Army and Air Force, but some Marines) from various Guard, Reserve, and active duty units have worked at K-2--"Khanabad, Uzbekistan Karshi-Kanabad (K2) Airbase Camp Stronghold Freedom," GlobalSecurity.org]

[Uzbekistan is believed to be one of the destination countries for the highly secretive 'renditions programme', whereby the CIA ships terrorist suspects to third-party countries where torture is used that cannot be employed in the US.--Nick Paton Walsh and Paul Harris, "Anger as US backs brutal regime," The Observer (UK), May 15, 2005]

Craig Murray, "What drives support for this torturer: Oil and gas ensure that the US backs the Uzbek dictator to the hilt," Guardian, May 16, 2005

[There is no way to confirm numbers offered by refugees, but it seemed likely that when the truth emerges, the massacre in Uzbekistan, an American ally in the fight against terrorism, could become the deadliest assault on civilians since the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989.--Deirdre Tynan, "Refugees put Uzbek dead in thousands," The Telegraph (UK), May 17, 2005]

"Uzbek protesters ask US to help oust Karimov," Reuters, May 17, 2005

Alexei Volosevich, Dimitri Beliakov, Mark Franchetti, and Kara Dariya, "Terrified Uzbeks tell of three massacres ," Sunday Times, May 22, 2005

Trevor Royle, "Karimov escapes regime change as America pursues the 'great game'," Sunday Herald, May 22, 2005

Marc Perelman, "Uzbek Unrest Shines Light on Leader's Ties to Jewry," The Forward, May 26, 2005

Nick Paton Walsh, "The lie about liberty: Uzbekistan has shown former Soviet states that the west tolerates the repression of peaceful protest in return for oil," Guardian, May 31, 2005

C. J. Chivers, "Rights Group Calls Deadly Uzbek Crackdown a 'Massacre'," New York Times, June 8, 2005

R. Jeffrey Smith and Glenn Kessler, "U.S. Opposed Calls at NATO for Probe of Uzbek Killings: Officials Feared Losing Air Base Access," Washington Post, June 14, 2005

C. J. Chivers and Tom Shanker, "Uzbek Ministries in Crackdown Received U.S. Aid," New York Times, June 18, 2005

Robin Wright, "Uzbeks Stop Working With U.S. Against Terrorism," Washington Post, September 30, 2005

[US plays down human rights situation in Uzbekistan. A dangerous policy: increasing repression combined with poverty will promote Islamic terrorism. Support to Karimov regime a bankrupt and cynical policy. . . .

As seen from Tashkent, US policy is not much focussed on democracy or freedom. It is about oil, gas and hegemony. In Uzbekistan the US pursues those ends through supporting a ruthless dictatorship. We must not close our eyes to uncomfortable truth. . . .

We receive intelligence obtained under torture from the Uzbek intelligence services, via the US. We should stop. It is bad information anyway. Tortured dupes are forced to sign up to confessions showing what the Uzbek government wants the US and UK to believe, that they and we are fighting the same war against terror.--Craig Murray, "Association for Democracy in Uzbekistan: Confidential Letters," craigmurray.co.uk, December 29, 2005]

[As As the gateway to Afghanistan and Iran, and an area where both China and Russia vie for influence, the five Muslim countries of Central Asia - the other four are Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan - have a strategic importance to the United States well out of proportion to their size. Uzbekistan is the region's heart, with its most religious population, and also, at 28 million, its largest.--Sabrian Tavernise, "After '05 Uzbek Uprising, Issues Linger for West," New York Times, May 29, 2008]

David Leigh, "WikiLeaks cables: US keeps Uzbekistan president onside to protect supply line," Guardian, December 12, 2010

[Karimov's desire to move closer to the US is not indicative of a desire to find a patron but simply the desire for weapons--Dmitry Shlapentokh, "Uzbekistan and the road to war," atimes.com, September 18, 2012]

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