Friday, June 10, 2005

Lying through his teeth

A postscript on the May events in Uzbekistan - Craig Murray's "Brutal Reminder" in the FT Magazine, 28 May (subscribers only ---- link ):
...we had the Uzbek procurator general announcing that 170 people had, after all, been killed [in Andijan] but that they were all armed rebels. I did feel vindicated by the sheer disbelief that greeted this. Here is why.

In March 2004 there was a series of explosions and shootings in Tashkent, in which at least 30 people died. I dashed round to the scene of each incident, arriving within hours or even minutes...

Suicide bombers from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, linked to al-Qaeda, had carried out a series of attacks on security forces. That remains the internationally accepted version of events. But it isn’t true.

I attended the briefings the procurator general (the same man) gave to journalists and diplomats. His claims were completely incompatible with the facts I had observed. He said suicide belts had been used each with the force of two kilos of TNT. But at the sites there just wasn’t the physical damage. Not so much as a cracked paving stone, let alone a crater. The first “bomb” had been in a roughly triangular courtyard a maximum of 30m wide. Allegedly six soldiers and a suicide bomber had been killed. Not a pane of glass was broken in the buildings overlooking the courtyard, not a branch or sprig torn from the tree in the centre.

My reports that the procurator general was lying through his teeth brought me startled reproof from my management in London.
And some actions suggested by HRW (via Eric). For example:
The United States currently uses a rent-free base in Uzbekistan. Talks on a formal, long-term agreement, which would provide the Uzbek government considerably greater financial benefits, should stop until the Uzbek goverment agrres to formal investigations. Since July 2004 the U.S. government has cut most direct government-to-government assistance, including military aid, to Uzbekistan because of the country’s poor human rights record. The remaining U.S. Defense Department counter terrorrism assistance should be suspended is if the units receiving it were found to have participated in gross human rights violations.

The United States should explore alternative basing facilities elsewhere in the region. If the Uzbek government does not accept the proposed investigation, the United States should end its strategic partnership with Uzbekistan and discontinue its military presence in the country.


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