Tag Archives: Craig Murray

Craig Murray on Uzbekistan Today

. . . 1.4 million Uzbek children are today working in regime forced labour in the Uzbek cotton fields. They work at physically very tough labour for twelve hours a day in conditions identical to those in which black slave workers suffered in the Southern United States 200 years ago – indeed several US slave owners would have scrupled at the wholesale use of children as young as eight in the fields, as is done by the Uzbek government. They sleep in barracks on concrete floors, live on weak vegetable soup and drink dirty water from the irrigation ditches.

Of course it is not only children who are forced into the fields, and the system requires extreme compulsion. On October 6 in Kashkadarya, 18 year old Navruz Islamov was beaten to death by police for attempting to leave a cotton field when suffering from sunstroke. There are scores more such instances we do not hear about.

I have never felt so outraged as I did two years ago, when a European Commission official told me that the EU would not act on child labour in Uzbekistan as there was “no official evidence” of the practice, only “rumour”. This year – with the active connivance of EU nation state diplomats in Tashkent, particularly the German Ambassador – the Uzbek Government for the third successive year refused a request from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to visit Uzbekistan to monitor child labour in the cotton harvest. At the same time, the EU says it will not act without this report from the ILO.

This is also the position of the British Government, which has never made a single comment or statement on child labour in Uzbekistan (except by me while Ambassdaor). Indeed the coalition government has never made any statement on human rights in Uzbekistan at all, having no interest in the fate of its 8,000 political prisoners and ever-lengthening list of tortured and killed by the British “ally”, President Karimov.

Cuba has just announced the abolition of exit visas. Uzbekistan is now one of a tiny number of extreme regimes which still locks its people in, retaining the old Soviet exit visa system. The Cameron/Clegg government refuses to raise this with the Uzbek regime.

Britain and the EU are again selling weapons and providing military and secret service training to the Karimov regime, and the UK, US and other NATO countries are negotiating to “gift” huge amounts of arms and military materiel to Karimov as they withdraw from Afghanistan. Nobody in the West, and particularly in the Western media, appears to have any interest at all in our collusion with the most repressive and corrupt regime in the world.

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The Guantánamo Files

Craig Murray, “The Orchestration of Propaganda”

I have just witnessed the most remarkable operation in orchestration of propaganda in the UK in my lifetime. As I posted yesterday, the leaked Guantanamo files revealed a remarkable amount – that most detainees were completely innocent, that many were plainly fitted up by informants for cash, that people will say anything under torture, that ludicrous assertions were made by the US military, eg the possession of a watch was a clear indicator of bomb-making, and above all that nothing whatsoever could be proved against the vast majority of those held.

Today, with a quite amazing unanimity the mainstream British broadcast media have decided that none of the above analyses exist and the only thing worth reporting in the files is the assertion that 35 suspects received terror training in the UK. Both the BBC and Sky News were leading their broadcasts with the assertion of this highly dubious fact: here it is in Rupert Murdoch’s super soaraway Sun.

Given that the much more obvious lesson from the files is that this kind of information is untrue and from torture, informants, ridiculous deductions and prejudice, it really is an extraordinary thing that the entire British mainstream media today decided on this absolutely uniform presentation of the information. Nor has any of the outlets gone on to point out that not a single one of these 35 has actually been convicted of anything, and that many of them, like Moazzam Begg and the Tipton Three are demosntrably innocent, and that the British government is going to be paying quite a few of them compensation.

In fact the British media has today decided to report in precisely the same terms the least plausible imaginable interpretation of the large amount of material released. The only possible explanation is that somebody has issued a central guidance as to how the catalogue of shame which is the Guantanamo files should be twisted instead to support the narrative of the War on Terror.

Of all the bad things I have lived through, to me this is the most chilling Orwellian development I have experienced in my country; it feels like a crucial tipping point in our movement away from meaningful democracy.

_________

The Guardian, “The Guantánamo Files”

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Sting and the Dictator’s Daughter

Sting’s bollocks
The St. Petersburg Times
Issue #1551 (12), Friday, February 26, 2010
Chernov’s choice

Sting made the news on Sunday, when information about him accepting between $1.5 million and $3 million to play in Tashkent for Uzbek president Islam Karimov’s glamorous daughter and heir was picked up by the press.

The former Police singer and bass player is known as a human rights campaigner and Amnesty International supporter.

Karimov, the former First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic, is known as one of the world’s harshest dictators, who has used torture, media censorship and false elections to remain the country’s president-for-life since 1990.

Gordon Sumner & Gulnara Karimova

Uzbekistan is a country in which children are employed to work on state cotton fields, and protest rallies are shot at (several hundred protesters were reported to have been shot and killed in Andijon in 2005).

Craig Murray, the former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, who wrote about sweeping corruption and appalling human rights abuses in his 2007 memoirs, “Murder in Samarkand,” even reported cases of Karimov’s political opponents being boiled to death.

Tactfully, Sting’s official web site did not report the event — neither when it took place in October nor when the controversy arose on Sunday — but the singer reacted to media criticism with some remarks in his defense.

“I am well aware of the Uzbek president’s appalling reputation in the field of human rights as well as the environment. I made the decision to play there in spite of that,” Sting was quoted as saying by The Daily Mail on Sunday.

“I have come to believe that cultural boycotts are not only pointless gestures, they are counter-productive, where proscribed states are further robbed of the open commerce of ideas and art and as a result become even more closed, paranoid and insular.”

Former ambassador Murray disagreed. “This really is transparent bollocks,” he wrote on his blog.

“He did not take a guitar and jam around the parks of Tashkent. He got paid over a million pounds to play an event specifically designed to glorify a barbarous regime. Is the man completely mad?”

Sting chose the wrong line of defense.

The Scorpions, after performing at the Federal Security Service’s 90th anniversary concert in the Kremlin (yes, the FSB sees itself as the heir to Lenin’s murderous Cheka) in 2008, said they did not know what the concert was about.

Anti-capitalist Roger Waters, whose 2008 concert on Palace Square was promoted as a “gift” from the Economic Forum and was attended by oligarch Roman Abramovich — who traveled to St. Petersburg on his state-of-the art, missile-proof yacht — said that the promoters hadn’t told him that his show was part of the forum.

“What Uzbekistan? What Karimov? I wasn’t told what it was about,” would be the right answer. Or does Sting still have some conscience left?

— By Sergey Chernov

Editor’s Note: You have one day left to listen to Dave Hare’s brilliant radio dramatization of Craig Murray’s Murder in Samarkand, starring David Tenant as Ambassador Murray.

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Craig Murray and John Pilger on the “War on Terror”

Last July, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said this, and I quote: “It’s important for us all to remember here in Australia that Afghanistan has been a training ground for terrorists worldwide, a training ground also for terrorists in South-East-Asia, reminding us of the reasons that we are in the field of combat and reaffirming our resolve to remain committed to that cause.”

There is no truth in this statement. It is the equivalent of his predecessor John Howard’s lie that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

Shortly before Kevin Rudd made that statement, American planes bombed a wedding party in Afghanistan. At least sixty people were blown to bits, including the bride and groom and many children. That’s the fifth wedding party attacked, in our name.

The prime minister was standing outside a church on a Sunday morning when he made his statement. No reporter challenged him. No one said the war was a fraud: that it began as an American vendetta following 9/11, in which not a single Afghan was involved. No one put it to Kevin Rudd that our perceived enemy in Afghanistan were introverted tribesmen who had no quarrel with Australia and didn’t give a damn about south-east Asia and just wanted the foreign soldiers out of their country. Above all, no one said: “Prime Minister, There is no war on terror. It’s a hoax. But there is a war of terror waged by governments, including the Australian government, in our name.” That wedding party, Prime Minister, was blown to bits by one of the latest smart weapons, such as the Hellfire bomb that sucks the air out of the lungs. In our name.

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Last Tanks in Oslo

Sept30FRobama_g20_group

The enemies of peace speak out:

Michael Moore

Alexander Cockburn

Atilio Borón

Craig Murray

Paul Street:

Obama may have sold himself as a “peace” candidate to the nation’s liberal-Democratic primary voters, but he has made sure to repeatedly remind that elite of his basic commitment to the imperial agenda. He will continue the occupation of Iraq for an indefinite period, escalate U.S. assaults on Afghanistan and Pakistan, reflexively defend Israel’s oppression of Palestine, continue the United States’ provocation of Russia, oppose independent and left nationalism in Latin America,  and possibly assault Iran.  All of this and more is clear from his numerous foreign policy statements to date, including his claim that “the Surge” in Iraq has “succeeded beyond our wildest imagination”, his insistence that “all options” (including nuclear attack) are “on the table” when it comes to Iran, his repeated call for increased commitment to George Bush’s “good” and “proper” war on Afghanistan, and his call (last year) for incursions into Pakistan.

Obama has never criticized the brazenly petro-imperialist, mass-murderous Iraq occupation on moral or legal grounds.  He claims that the U.S. invaded out of the “best of [democratic] intentions” and even that we are “spending billions each month re-building Iraq” (he tells voters the U.S. should “stop” that altruistic project and “start re-building America”). A committed “American exceptionalist,” he recently told CNN that the U.S. has done nothing for which it should apologize for in terms of its foreign policy because “we [the U.S.] are a force for good in the world.”

In the summer of 2007, Obama published an article in the establishment Council of Foreign Relations journal foreign Affairs.  In this essay he said, “The American moment is not over, but it must be seized anew.” Obama argued that “we must not rule out using military force” in pursuit of “our vital interests…A strong military,” Obama wrote, “is, more than anything, necessary to sustain peace.” We must “revitalize our military” to foster “peace,” he argued, echoing Orwell, partly by adding 65,000 soldiers to the Army and 27,000 to the Marines.

Obama gave reasons to expect future unilateral and “preemptive” wars and occupations carried out in the name of the “war on terror” by an Obama White House. “We must retain the capacity to swiftly defeat any conventional threat to our country and our vital interests,” Obama pronounced.  “But we must also become better prepared to put boots on the ground.” Reassuring the more militarist segments of the U.S. power elite that he would not be hamstrung by international law and civilized norms when “our vital interests” (translation: other peoples’ oil resources) are “at stake”. Obama added that “I will not hesitate to use force unilaterally, if necessary, to protect the American people or our vital interests…We must consider using military force in circumstances beyond self-defense…to provide for the common security that underpins global stability.” Obama wins accolades from American neoconservatives like Robert Kagan (a leading McCain advisor) for such language.

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