The United States & Uzbekistan
Today's Democracy Now! conducted an interview with Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan. Murray was fired as ambassador to Uzbekistan after he openly criticized the British and U.S. governments for supporting human rights abuses under the Uzbek regime.
Craig Murray has created a website to expose and reveal his findings, including a letter from now-indicted Enron CEO Kenneth Lay to then-Texas governor George W Bush in which Lay crosses out the words "Governor Bush" and writes "Dear George." In it, Lay writes he is "delighted" Bush is meeting with the Uzbek ambassador to the US and tells Bush of Enron's plans in Uzbekistan.
In one classified memo from July 2004, Murray wrote, "We receive intelligence obtained under torture from the Uzbek intelligence services via the US. We should stop... This is morally, legally and practically wrong."
A summary of one of Murray's memos read: "U.S. plays down human rights situation in Uzbekistan. A dangerous policy: increasing repression combined with poverty will promote Islamic terrorism." In another secret memo Murray estimated the Uzbek government was holding up to 10,000 political and religious prisoners.
According to Democracy Now!, Murray has encouraged website owners to republish the material on their sites, fearing his site will be shut down. Hundreds have since taken up the call.
The entire interview is worth reading. The 'liberal media' has yet to pick it up. Here are excerpts:
AMY GOODMAN: Our guest is the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, has since resigned, was forced out as ambassador, fired as ambassador to Uzbekistan. Craig Murray, who from the time he became ambassador in 2002, began speaking out and also talking about the U.S. relationship with the Uzbek regime. The relationship between President Bush and the president of Uzbekistan, Karimov.
CRAIG MURRAY: That's right.
AMY GOODMAN: What about it?
CRAIG MURRAY: Well, it goes back to before George Bush became President. In 1997 or 1998, George Bush, as Governor of Texas, had a meeting with the Uzbek ambassador to the United States, Ambassador Safayev, which was actually organized and set up by Kenneth Lay of Enron. And if you go to my website, you can find a facsimile of Kenneth Lay's letter to George Bush, telling him to meet Ambassador Safayev in order to conclude a billion-dollar gas deal between Uzbekistan and Enron. And that was the start of the Bush relationship with the Karimov regime.
Karimov is one of the most vicious dictators in the world, a man who is responsible for the death of thousands of people. Prisoners are boiled to death in Uzbek jails. And he was a guest in the White House in 2002. It's very easy to find photos of George Bush shaking Karimov's hand. Rumsfeld is particularly chummy with Karimov, so -
AMY GOODMAN: Boiled to death?
CRAIG MURRAY: Yeah, it was one of the first cases I came across, back in August or September of 2002. Two Muslim prisoners in Jaslyk gulag, which is an old Soviet gulag in the middle of the Karakum Desert, a sort of forced-labor camp, a terrible place where people are sent to die, effectively, two Islamic prisoners were boiled to death. They died of immersion in boiling water. The mother of one of the prisoners received her son's body back in a sealed casket, was ordered not to open the casket, and just to bury it the next morning. Despite being in her sixties, she managed to get the casket open in the middle of the night, even though police were guarding the house outside.
She got the body onto the kitchen table and took a series of detailed photos, which she got to the British embassy. I sent them back to London -- or, in fact, to Scotland, to the University of Glasgow, the pathology department. On the basis of these detailed photos, they did an autopsy report, in which they said that he had had his fingernails extracted, he had been severely beaten, particularly about the face, and he died of immersion in boiling liquid. And it was immersion, rather than splashing, because there is a clear tide mark around the upper torso and arms, which gives you some idea of the level of brutality of this regime.
AMY GOODMAN: So, you got this information out, and then what happened?
CRAIG MURRAY: It was very difficult for the British government, which, officially, of course, supports human rights, so it was very hard for them to reprimand me for making points on human rights. But also, internally, I was making other points, which I wasn't making in public at that time, and that was about the intelligence material we were getting from the Uzbek secret service, because I was seeing C.I.A. reports, which were passed on to MI6, which had been extracted from the Uzbek torture chambers.
I had been there for two or three months, which was long enough to know that, effectively, any Uzbek political or religious detainee is going to be tortured. There's no question of definition here. You know, we're not talking about 'Is that or is that not torture?' We're talking about people having their fingernails pulled, having their teeth smashed with hammers, having their limbs broken, and being raped with objects, including broken bottles; both male and female rape, extremely common in Uzbek prisons. And from the security service, which was operating right alongside the C.I.A., we were getting this intelligence.
I mean, the intelligence itself was nonsense. The purpose of the intelligence was to say that all the Uzbek opposition were related to al-Qaeda, that the democratic Uzbek opposition were all Islamic terrorists, that they'd traveled to Afghanistan, held meetings with Osama bin Laden. It was designed to promote the myth that Uzbekistan was, in total, part of the war on terror, and that by aligning himself with Karimov, Bush and the Bush Administration were backing or improving United States security, which wasn't true at all. I mean, the intelligence was false. If you torture people, they will say anything. I couldn't believe that the C.I.A. was working so closely with these dreadful security services and then were accepting intelligence which was obviously untrue. When I started complaining about that, even though I was only complaining internally, that's when the British government started to lose its patience with me and get very angry with me.