Terror or insurgency in Uzbekistan, US Ally?

Reply Wed 25 May, 2005 02:06 pm
Uzbek Parliament to Investigate Andijan Unrest
By Cihan News Agency
Published: Wednesday 25, 2005

Uzbekistan established a private commission to investigate the bloody incidents that resulted in the deaths of 169 people according to official figures, while on the other hand, it resulted in the deaths of 1,000 according to the opposition. Uzbeks rejected an international commission to investigate the incidents.

The Uzbek parliamentary commission formed to shed light on the May 13 events consists of 11 deputies and five senators. It will discuss the licitness of the activities conducted by government and security units during the events. Life gradually returns to normal in Andijan; people are trying to relieve the effects of the tension. Locals in Andijan focused on their daily routine. No obvious signs remain of the May 13 events except the building of the governor's office which was burned down. Security measures at official buildings especially attracts attention. Shopping Malls are overflowing with crowds who seem almost ignorant of the previous turmoil. The people, whose relatives were killed, accept the visits of well wishers, visit the cemeteries, read the Koran and pray. Some locals take a short break in Bag-i Babur, one of the most beautiful parks in the city. On the other hand, Uzbekistan declared that they will not allow the requests of the Uzbek refugees who fled into neighboring Kyrgyzstan to seek shelter. Among those, are the names of those who were instrumental in the events. Having taken Hizbuttahir group under closer watch following the Uzbek turmoil, Kyrgyz security forces arrested five ringleaders.

On the other hand, in a statement issued before Uzbek President Islam Karimov's Beijing visit, China reported that they support the actions against the government to be suppressed in Uzbekistan. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has condemned the actions of the Uzbek security units during the events. Meanwhile, human rights advocate Saidcahon Zeynebidinav, who has criticized the government over Andijan unrest, was arrested.


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Reply Wed 25 May, 2005 04:10 pm
Interesting side note to terror in Uzbekistan:

Hume's report on Uzbekistan neglected to mention evidence of U.S. rendition policy there

Fox News devoted a full segment of the May 23 edition of Special Report with Brit Hume to political repression and human rights abuses in Uzbekistan, but failed to mention that the United States regularly sends terrorism suspects to Uzbekistan for interrogation, in a practice called rendition, according to news reports. The Central Intelligence Agency has rendered dozens of U.S.-held detainees to Uzbekistan for detention and interrogation despite world condemnation of the government's torture of prisoners.

In an interview with Columbia University professor Steven Sestanovich, a former ambassador and State Department official, host Brit Hume noted that, although the United States would like to condemn Uzbek President Islam Karimov, "The problem for the U.S. is that he has been a strategic ally in the war on terror, and the U.S. has a military base there." But neither Hume nor Sestanovich mentioned one crucial form of assistance that Karimov has reportedly provided: allowing the CIA to render detainees to Uzbekistan for interrogations that would likely be illegal for U.S. interrogators to perform.

Despite "little high-level contact" between the U.S. and Uzbek governments prior to the September 11 terrorist attacks, growing evidence demonstrates that the United States has rendered "dozens" of detainees to Uzbekistan for interrogations since then, "even as Uzbekistan's treatment of its own prisoners continues to earn it admonishments from around the world, including from the State Department," according to a May 1 article in The New York Times. When asked about the practice at an April press conference, President Bush stated: "We seek assurances that nobody will be tortured when we render a person back to their home country."

A May 18 Washington Post report gave a similar account of U.S. renderings to Uzbekistan: "The United States has also transported suspected terrorists to Uzbekistan as part of its 'rendition' program, despite documented torture by the government." On the March 7 edition of ABC's World News Tonight, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray stated that the CIA knew that the Uzbeks were torturing prisoners, including one case in which he received photos of a prisoner who was boiled alive. When his deputy confronted the CIA station chief about the practices, he was told "Yes, it [information] probably was obtained under torture.


Here is the beginning of the NYT article referred to:

Hans Rudolf Oeser for The New York Times
Muhammad Salih, the leader of Uzbekistan's pro-democracy Erk Democratic Party, who is living in exile in Germany, has urged the United States not to ignore Uzbekistan's poor record on human rights.

Burt Herman/Associated Press
American soldiers of the 25th Infantry Division arrived in Uzbekistan last year to reinforce the troops already based there. Since Sept. 11, 2001, Uzbekistan has received more than $500 million in American aid.

President Bush welcomed President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan to the White House in 2002 to form a partnership to combat terrorism.

U.S. Recruits a Rough Ally to Be a Jailer

Published: May 1, 2005

Seven months before Sept. 11, 2001, the State Department issued a human rights report on Uzbekistan. It was a litany of horrors.

The police repeatedly tortured prisoners, State Department officials wrote, noting that the most common techniques were "beating, often with blunt weapons, and asphyxiation with a gas mask." Separately, international human rights groups had reported that torture in Uzbek jails included boiling of body parts, using electroshock on genitals and plucking off fingernails and toenails with pliers. Two prisoners were boiled to death, the groups reported. The February 2001 State Department report stated bluntly, "Uzbekistan is an authoritarian state with limited civil rights."

Immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks, however, the Bush administration turned to Uzbekistan as a partner in fighting global terrorism. The nation, a former Soviet republic in Central Asia, granted the United States the use of a military base for fighting the Taliban across the border in Afghanistan. President Bush welcomed President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan to the White House, and the United States has given Uzbekistan more than $500 million for border control and other security measures.

Now there is growing evidence that the United States has sent terror suspects to Uzbekistan for detention and interrogation, even as Uzbekistan's treatment of its own prisoners continues to earn it admonishments from around the world, including from the State Department.

The so-called rendition program, under which the Central Intelligence Agency transfers terrorism suspects to foreign countries to be held and interrogated, has linked the United States to other countries with poor human rights records. But the turnabout in relations with Uzbekistan is particularly sharp. Before Sept. 11, 2001, there was little high-level contact between Washington and Tashkent, the Uzbek capital, beyond the United States' criticism.

Uzbekistan's role as a surrogate jailer for the United States was confirmed by a half-dozen current and former intelligence officials working in Europe, the Middle East and the United States. The C.I.A. declined to comment on the prisoner transfer program, but an intelligence official estimated that the number of terrorism suspects sent by the United States to Tashkent was in the dozens.

There is other evidence of the United States' reliance on Uzbekistan in the program. On Sept. 21, 2003, two American-registered airplanes - a Gulfstream jet and a Boeing 737 - landed at the international airport in Tashkent, according to flight logs obtained by The New York Times.

Although the precise purpose of those flights is not known, over a span of about three years, from late 2001 until early this year, the C.I.A. used those two planes to ferry terror suspects in American custody to countries around the world for questioning, according to interviews with former and current intelligence officials and flight logs showing the movements of the planes. On the day the planes landed in Tashkent, the Gulfstream had taken off from Baghdad, while the 737 had departed from the Czech Republic, the logs show.

The logs show at least seven flights were made to Uzbekistan by those planes from early 2002 to late 2003, but the records are incomplete.

Details of the C.I.A.'s prisoner transfer program have emerged in recent months from a handful of former detainees who have been released, primarily from prisons in Egypt and Afghanistan, and in some cases have alleged they were beaten and tortured while being held.

The program was created in the mid-1980's as a way for the C.I.A. to transfer crime suspects arrested abroad to their home countries. After Sept. 11, the C.I.A. used it to send prisoners suspected of being senior leaders of Al Qaeda to a half-dozen countries for detention. American intelligence officials estimate that the United States has transferred 100 to 150 suspects to Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Uzbekistan..........

Continues here:


Real politik, I guess....but I have huge respect for the Brit.
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Reply Thu 26 May, 2005 01:49 pm
Continued from before ... added translation in dark-red (sorry about that). And again, please realise that neither German nor English is my native language.

SZ-Interview with Uzbek opposition leader
"Terror is used to enrich the country"
Muhammed Salih considers President Karimov's fight against Islamists to be staged - West should suspend aid

Sueddeutsche Zeitung
23 May 2005

Muhammed Salih , 55, Uzbek writer, is leader of the Democratic Freedom Party Erk. This is one of the two most important opposition movements in Uzbekistan, alongside the movement Birlik (Unity), from which it split off in 1990. In 1993 Salih had to leave the country and today he lives as refugee in Norway.

SZ: Uprising in Kyrgszstan, unrest in Uzbekistan: Will these developments lead to democracy or, as some fear, to the next Islamist dictatorship?

Salih: What is taking place here is a change in social structure, a spontaneous popular uprising. Some of the Western criticism here reminds me of the debate ten years ago. The Western countries at the time were satisfied with the democratisation process in the Soviet Union and had no higher expectations, feared, even, "too much progress". A revolution should not be considered. But it came to a breakthrough anyway. Considering the fact that democracy is no privilege of selected races, the West should have no problem with promoting younger democracies. After all, what should we do? Should we turn to China for support for our democracy movement? Or to Russia to get support in acquiring the freedom of opinion? No. This time the West must believe in a peaceful transition from dictatorship to democracy in Central Asia.

SZ: The Uzbek President Islam Karimov however warns against Islamist tendencies.

Salih: The existence of islamist groups in Central Asia can not be ignored - the regime of Uzbek President Islam Karimov contributes to them finding a place in the country. After the democratic oppositional groups were forbidden, they were replaced by Islamists. The West however praises Karimov as a "fighter against terror". But the terror stands in relation to Karimov's regime and army. Many states help the "allies against terrorism" with all means, like never before - to such an extent that terrorism already constitutes a source for national enrichment [for the Karimov regime].

SZ: The Islam in Uzbekistan, like in all of Central Asia, is considered moderate. Before the Soviet era it was suffused with Sufism, the Islamic mysticism.

Salih: The peoples of Central Asia have for decades practised an adaptable, open form of Islam. [..] This part of the continent has no radical Islamic roots. We host suffused atheists, who see a danger in all religion. Both they and the suffused Islamists, too, are prisoners of their own fanaticism. Outsiders and those with different convictions are declared enemies and eventually put down. Today thousands of torture victims pay for that.

SZ: How does Karimov instrumentalize the supposed islamic danger?

Salih: The cause for the unrests is not primarily to do with the Islamic forces, but with the devastating social conditions. But Karimov has deliberately and premeditatively provoked the rise of the radical Islmism and has in so doing acquired aid from the US and the West. To represent the Islamists as the basis of the democratic opposition and to subsequently crush that opposition - that has been the tactic of Karimov since 1992. The danger in this region does not stem from the radical Islam, but from Karimov and his regime. In a possible election, the "radical Islamists" would not even get one percent of the vote, because they lack a basis. They were never in question as the alternative [to Karimov], that was always the democratic opposition. And it is the likely election victory of the opposition that Karimov truly fears.

SZ: How can the West act to support the movement for democracy?

Salih: The United States of America are agitating through a Senate decision with the "Act of Democracy" against the Byelorussian dictator Alexander Lukashenko, a similar decision should be introduced also concerning Islam Karimov. Especially after the speech of the American President George W. Bush at the beginning of his second term in January, in which he promised "peace for the whole world". It suffices for us, if the Western world gets off its policy of double morals and in the future doesnt support the dictator anymore. The unrests are heralding the fall of Karimov. If the West stops its support for the dictator, the regime can be overthrown in short term - and we want to bring along this overthrow peacefully and without bloodletting.

I'm a bit sceptic about Islamic radicals "not even getting 1%" in elections; I would subscribe to Salih's theory that Karimov's abitrary persecution has probably triggered some actual Islamic popular movement. But no, Uzbekistan is not Taliban country. Like Iraq, it's traditionally had a relatively modern, secular climate in the 20th century, and in 1990 at least the budding, if fragile opposition was one of intellectual democrats, not strident imams. Democrats certainly stand a chance - if the West, Europe and the US alike, stands by them.

The longer the West is associated with co-operation with (or tolerance of) the Karimov dictatorship, the more its own name and appeal will be smeared and discredited - and sadly, that of Western-style democracy along with it. If the choice that Uzbeks will face when Karimov does fall - and he will fall, one of these days - is that between imported Islamic radicalism and democratic dissidents who have managed to enjoin the US and EU in bringing about Karimov's fall in the first place, then post-Karimov democracy should stand a fair chance. If the choice is between the same imported Muslim radicals and a 'Western' model that's associated with countries that did not act against Karimov, or even kept on co-operating with him, till the end - even after the massacre in and around Andijan - then the extremists have an open goal to score.

As an emigre, Salih runs the risk of not knowing exactly what the situation on the ground is anymore, of course. But the same risk did not stop the US from working together with a large coalition of Iraqi emigres from around the world. And though Chalabi was a crook, there were some good people in there (anecdotally, an Iraqi former colleague of my mothers went to London to work for the INC). And these words of Salih's are straightforward and credible enough:

The United States of America are agitating through a Senate decision with the "Act of Democracy" against the Byelorussian dictator Alexander Lukashenko, a similar decision should be introduced also concerning Islam Karimov. [..] It suffices for us, if the Western world gets off its policy of double morals and in the future doesnt support the dictator anymore. The unrests are heralding the fall of Karimov. If the West stops its support for the dictator, the regime can be overthrown in short term - and we want to bring along this overthrow peacefully.
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Reply Thu 26 May, 2005 02:03 pm
Lash wrote:
Rather than overthrowing the Uzbek government, isn't the path of least resistance trying to influence Karimov before takling more striingent (dangerous) methods?

Don't you think the people of Ubekistan would suffer more than Karimov if we stop the paltry 10 mil? [..]

What is the difference in the statement the US made and the one you insist we sign on to?

I think you may have to make your mind up, here - either the proposals I fielded represent "dangerous methods" or they dont include much beyond the statement the US has already made anyway ...

Specifically, the difference between the statement the US made and the one I appeal for is exactly the four points I listed. Well, I dont expect it to publicly repudiate any practice of "rendition" since I dont believe it actually acknowledges engaging in it in the first place. But suspending that "paltry" 10 million, joining the EU in its call for an independent, international inquest and announcing cuts or suspension of its military co-operation as very much a "political statement" (or at the very least tying it to conditions of some sort, as in: if you dont agree to an independent investigation and a roadmap to democratic elections, we will suspend all etc), dont sound all too recklessly dangerous to me. Especially in comparison with the far more robust and applaudable stance still the US has taken against undemocratic regimes elsewhere in the post-Soviet space and the Middle East.

As for whether the people of Uzbekistan might not suffer much more than Karimov if freedom is given a chance - well, freedom is always a risk - but again I would refer you to what President Bush said about that in Riga:

when powerful governments negotiated, the freedom of small nations was somehow expendable. Yet this attempt to sacrifice freedom for the sake of stability left a continent divided and unstable. [..]

We have learned that governments accountable to citizens are peaceful, while dictatorships stir resentments and hatred to cover their own failings. We have learned that the skeptics and pessimists are often wrong, because men and women in every culture, when given the chance, will choose liberty. [..] And we have learned that the demand for self-government is often driven and sustained by patriotism, by the traditions and heroes and language of a native land. [..]

freedom is the only reliable path to peace. If the Middle East continues to simmer in anger and resentment and hopelessness, caught in a cycle of repression and radicalism, it will produce terrorism of even greater audacity and destructive power. But if the peoples of that region gain the right of self-government, and find hopes to replace their hatreds, then the security of all free nations will be strengthened.

We will not repeat the mistakes of other generations, appeasing or excusing tyranny, and sacrificing freedom in the vain pursuit of stability. We have learned our lesson; no one's liberty is expendable. In the long run, our security and true stability depend on the freedom of others. And so, with confidence and resolve, we will stand for freedom across the broader Middle East.
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Reply Thu 26 May, 2005 04:16 pm
Don't mistake. I in no way suggested selling out freedom for stability. I couldn't have my views on Iraq if I was willing to do that.

I was speaking about the 10 mil. I don't think it would adversely affect Karimov, but the loss of it may seriously impact the health and welfare of the citizens.

My question belie my view that if we have a toe-hold with a dictator--why not try to work change through him, rather than put the people through violence...IF IT IS UNNECESSARY.

It may or may not be unnecessary.

I hope Bush's words are considered by those reading.
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Reply Sat 28 May, 2005 05:35 pm
Lash wrote:
I was speaking about the 10 mil. I don't think it would adversely affect Karimov, but the loss of it may seriously impact the health and welfare of the citizens.

Considering the rampant corruption in the country, I strongly doubt it ever reaches them in the first place (I dont think its development aid in the first place, would have to look it up).

Lash wrote:
My question belie my view that if we have a toe-hold with a dictator--why not try to work change through him, rather than put the people through violence...IF IT IS UNNECESSARY.

It may or may not be unnecessary.

The opposition, too, of course strives for a peaceful overthrow (see above). But on that particular count, I'm pessimistic. During the unrest this month, Karimov apparently said that he wasnt going to "make the same mistake as the Kyrgiz" - that is, let himself be overtaken by events by being too soft. Hence the brutal clampdown. Never mind whether some of the Andijan rebels did or did not have guns (the eyewitness accounts speak of an unarmed crowd being mowed down, with most of the victims women and children) - the sons of bitches actually chased after the fleeing survivors to ambush them on their way to refuge in Kyrgisztan. I am not optimistic that this is a regime that will just give in to demonstrators.

Not, that is, unless it feels it has no way of surviving in any case - and that it will no longer have any outside source of support or enrichment to want to sit it out for in the meantime either. Because on the other hand Karimov is no crazed zealot like the North-Koreans, he's an opportunist, he's in there for the power and the money, not for some ideology. So my guess is that he'll only ever give up if he sees that he's not just beleaguered domestically, but that he'll be bereft of any outside power and money supply anyway. Thats why, IMHO, its so important to isolate the man and rob him of the hope that he still has a few fat years ahead of him with lucrative oil and gas deals and hosting American and German soldiers and other such profitable sidelines. In short - wich was basically Mr. Salih's point, a peaceful turnover of power is actually more likely if the West stops offering Karimov military and financial co-operation and thus keeps up his hope of still getting enough out of this to make it worth the risks.

Still, even then I am not all too confident about an actually peaceful outcome. There'll be some chaos, for sure. And again, the longer Karimov's regime festers on, the more chaotic the aftermath will be. Call it the "Ceaucescu principle": the more brutal a dictatorship is, the more likely it is to go down in flames. The cynism in the situation here is that, ironically, the undemocratic Ukrainian and Georgian governments could be ousted by relatively peaceful protest because each was actually much less of a dictatorship than Karimov's. Opposition figures were villified in the Ukrainian state press and this or that activist would be harassed, culminating in the murder of independent journalist Gongadze. But in Uzbekistan, there are no independent journalists, and joining a demonstration or opposition organisation has for a decade now carried the near-guarantee of arrest, imprisonment and torture.

The result is that the legal, coherent civil society structures that could relatively openly, collaboratively, develop and implement plans of democratisation in the Ukraine and Georgia - and instantly take over when the government actually fell - are fully lacking. Instead, you have the underground, or you have spontaneous local rebellions, both by definition unpredictable, splintered and easy to radicalize, and you have the emigres, worthy people who however might not necessarily still have authority at home. That does admittedly make it harder for Western countries to actively facilitate opposition groups the way they did in the Ukraine and Georgia. But then again it was the same in Iraq, and that didnt stop the US etc from even invading it - let alone simply imposing sanctions or, the even lesser point we're talking about here, at least stopping to actually fund and co-operate with the guy.

And after all, Uzbekistan is no Saudi-Arabia either. In SA, the moment they held sort of free elections on a local level, the fundamentalists won almost every single seat at hand. And justifiably, posters here, you too, applauded it anyhow. But if the current SA order does indeed go down within a few years, as you predicted in another thread, the subsequent regime will likely be strictly and fiercely Islamist. In comparison, though much is unknown about the impact of Karimov's decade and a half of torture, Uzbekistan is a land with a long-standing tradition of moderate Islam (influenced as it was first by Sufism, than by secularism).

As for working for change through him, Karimov has over the course of a dozen years of friendly warnings and stern declarations shown that he won't change his ways just because we ask him. More pressure is needed. I'd be all for facilitating the emigre opposition, for one, the way the US did with the Iraqis. But let's start simply with suspending the military/financial cooperation and stating that, yes, it is a political message. Or heck - announce that you will suspend it, if he doesnt agree to an inquest and talks with the opposition. Thats working through him, right? We've tried the carrot for ten years, but the mixed message of it all didnt work. Time to, if not actually use any stick, at least (threaten to) withdraw the carrot.

Apart from all that, I also see it as a question of preserving your own sanity, myself. You dont want to co-operate with a regime that literally boils its political prisoners to death. In any way. End of story.
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Reply Sat 28 May, 2005 05:37 pm
A long answer - sorry - but I think it adresses all the points your questions raised. Sorry for any duplication of points already made in previous posts.
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Reply Sat 28 May, 2005 06:38 pm
Thank you for the detailed response.

There is a lot going on on the Democracy front recently, and I think there'll be a lot more--so, we're likely to meet up in these discussions. I feel like I may need to say--with these geopolitical upheavals, I generally start by questioning the general opinion. I have read some, but not enough to make a comfortable, definitive statement of opinion on this situation. I'm still thinking and reading. When I come out of what may seem like...left field...or seem to be leaning in a direction due to my line of questions...understand that when they are questions...they're just questions--accumilating as much information as I can about all angles.

My knee-jerk response is to do as you have said--withdraw--or threaten to withdraw funds. (I almost always question my knee-jerk response.) Increase funding of a popular opposition and publicly tell Karimov we will respond to violence against the people--while offering to send a cadre of officials (political advisors) to help him ease restrictions. Words like that from Bush carry significant weight with people who are trying to embolden themselves to rise up.

But there are so many tentacles...

And after all, Uzbekistan is no Saudi-Arabia either. In SA, the moment they held sort of free elections on a local level, the fundamentalists won almost every single seat at hand. And justifiably, posters here, you too, applauded it anyhow.

It was the crack that will bring the wall down. I celebrated a bit early. <YAY!>

But if the current SA order does indeed go down within a few years, as you predicted in another thread, the subsequent regime will likely be strictly and fiercely Islamist.

I really disagree. There is a bit of a Renaissance brimming. A Middle Class is coming up. Sufism is growing and asserting itself--though they're getting tortured and disappeared for it. If the Wahhabis are taken from power--and they will be when Saud collapses--the people will demand autonomy. No one wants oppression. The people in the street...nimh--they are ordered to prove their allegience to Allah in these ways. I wouldn't dream of saying none of them are legitimate in their beliefs--but do note that life under Wahhabism is commensurate to life under the Taliban...Saddam. Its brainwashing on a scale we can't conceive of.

Apart from all that, I also see it as a question of preserving your own sanity, myself. You dont want to co-operate with a regime that literally boils its political prisoners to death. In any way

A little gruesome for my taste, yes.
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Reply Mon 30 May, 2005 03:01 pm
Nice bit of datamining there ... <smiles, in a friendly way>

(nimh appreciates a woman who knows how to use search)
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Reply Mon 30 May, 2005 03:15 pm
I wrote a couple of term papers on SA recently. One on US/SA policy and one wide ranging per internal trends (ie economic, demographic survey).

I must have read thirty related articles--and they have to be scholarly journals--so I came away with a tidy little bank of current issues, history and stats--which I'm sure to forget in <looks at watch> two weeks.

I ought to force myself to do this on a different country every six months or so. A very good way to get a useful view of a place.

But, thank you.


Hey. Guess what? Republicans go to Uzbekistan--call for investigation into what's been going on.

<smiles proudly of Republicans>
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Reply Mon 30 May, 2005 03:23 pm
Three cheers for John McCain - and yet further, consistent details about the gruesome events in Andijan.

3 senators seek inquiry into Uzbek violence

By C.J. Chivers
The New York Times
MONDAY, MAY 30, 2005

MOSCOW In the strongest statement by American officials since Uzbekistan carried out a bloody crackdown earlier this month against a revolt and anti-government demonstration in the city of Andijon, three U.S. senators on Sunday called for an international investigation into the violence and issued a strong rebuke of the authoritarian regime.

The senators' statement came amid new details of the conduct of the Uzbek security forces during and after the violence, including accounts from families that wounded victims have disappeared from hospitals in Andijon in recent days and that troops had opened fire on a civilian ambulance during the crackdown, killing three people inside.

The latest accounts further undermined the insistence of Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan's president and an American ally in counterterrorism efforts, that his troops operated with restraint and precision, and that civilian deaths were caused by the armed men behind the revolt.

Uzbekistan now says 173 people died in the uprising and crackdown on May 13, including 36 government troops. That number is an increase of the previous official count of 169 and is due, the government says, to the deaths of four more troops from injuries suffered that day.

The government count has been widely criticized as low; human rights groups, opposition parties, survivors and relatives of the dead have all said that at least several hundred civilians were killed by troops who fired with rifles and machine guns into dense crowds.

Appearing in Tashkent, the capital, where the senators met with members of four opposition parties, the delegation called the crackdown "shocking" and "a tragedy" and suggested that given Uzbekistan's long-standing record of repression and gruesome human rights abuses, the bloodshed was not surprising.

"History shows that continued repression of human rights leads to tragedies such as the one that just took place," said Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona. He later added, "When governments repress or oppress their people, sooner or later, if they have no avenue of expressing their desire for freedom, violence takes place."

The statement, made in the presence of the U.S. ambassador to Uzbekistan, marked a significant shift in tone. The senators also did not characterize the armed gunmen or escaped prisoners who started the revolt as militants or terrorists, as some American officials have in previous statements.

Uzbekistan has repeatedly described the men it fought as international Islamic terrorists, a characterization rejected by witnesses, who said the gunmen were local men who had been pushed to violence by the unrelenting repression and corruption of Karimov's regime.

McCain said the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or OSCE, which has 55 member nations, including Uzbekistan, should conduct the independent review. The European Union, the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the OSCE and several Western governments have also called on Uzbekistan to allow an outside review, an idea that Karimov has rebuffed.

The United States, balancing its interests in the region with accounts of the indiscriminate use of force by an ally, has been gentler, saying that any investigation should be transparent and have international participation
, but also making clear that it intends to continue cooperating with Uzbekistan on counterterrorism efforts.

In addition to McCain, the delegation included Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Senator John Sununu of New Hampshire. Its reception was chilly. Neither Karimov nor members of his government met with the group.

As the senators increased the American pressure, more details of the violence emerged from survivors and family members of the dead.

A photographer working independently for The New York Times in Andijon met with relatives of two men, a doctor and ambulance driver, who they said were killed in their ambulance by Uzbek troops who destroyed the vehicle with gunfire as it neared a checkpoint on May 13.

The consistent accounts of the relatives lent a measure of support to similar accounts from survivors in a refugee camp in Kyrgyzstan who have insisted that injured people were killed by troops
, and medical care was limited on May 13.

Several families in Andijon also said that victims lucky enough to make it to hospitals on May 13 have since vanished, apparently in government sweeps.

Members of one family said their relative, whom they called Ibadulo, has been missing for a week.

They used to bring him food at the regional hospital, but have since been told he is no longer on the list of those registered there.

Two days ago, his wife spent a day waiting for information on his whereabouts, but received no news. "We wait," she said. "That is all."

Yola Monakhov contributed reporting from Andijon and Tashkent.

For those not alert to the nuance of diplomacy, John McCain's demand of an inquest by a European organisation - ie, his falling in line with the EU/UN/NATO/OSCE position the Bush admin has so far been shirking - constitutes a significant difference with the official position, so far, that there should be some sort of "international participation" in an inquest.

As for Uzbek forces apparently raiding the hospitals and ambulances to kill off injured survivors of the Andijan massacre, not much nuance too have to explain there.
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Mon 30 May, 2005 03:32 pm
Commentary > Opinion
from the May 31, 2005 edition

The dangers of being Uzbekistan's best friend

By Lawrence A. Uzzell

FISHERSVILLE, VA. - The bloody suppression of an uprising in Uzbekistan dramatizes how Islam Karimov's regime is now more of a liability than an asset to Washington's long-term strategic interests. If we want to avoid a "clash of civilizations" with a billion Muslims, the United States can no longer afford to be this anti-Islamic dictator's closest ally.
In 2001, Uzbekistan was an essential staging ground for the war that toppled the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. But today it matters more as an example of US hypocrisy about human rights. It seems that a Soviet-style police state can brutalize its own people with impunity as long as it has good relations with the Pentagon.

Despite Mr. Karimov's efforts to block journalists from the sites of the massacres in Uzbekistan's Andijon region, it is now clear that hundreds of civilians were killed - many of them peaceful demonstrators. Though the insurgents also used deadly force, killing policemen and taking hostages, some of those hostages were slain by Karimov's own troops who sprayed crowds with automatic weapons fire.

The Andijon atrocities follow years of repression that have increasingly alienated the Karimov regime from its own people. The regime makes no serious effort to distinguish between Islamic extremists and moderates, imprisoning thousands on trumped-up charges of "terrorist" activity. Karimov's secret police are champion users of torture in investigative proceedings - reportedly including the torture of foreign captives delivered by the CIA.

Last month the Forum 18 News Service published its latest survey of religious freedom in Uzbekistan. It is clear from the findings of its Central Asia correspondent Igor Rotar that the State Department's quiet diplomacy has failed. Unregistered religious activity is still illegal, with believers often punished simply for holding prayer meetings in private homes, Mr. Rotar reported. It is almost impossible for minorities to register new congregations, with only one (a Jewish community) receiving official registration during all of 2004. Religious literature is censored: Imported books such as Bibles have been confiscated and destroyed. Muslims cannot travel as pilgrims to Mecca without specific permission from the state. All missionary activities are banned.

Last autumn saw a new surge of prosecutions of Protestants, Rotar found. The regime continues to "see any informal group of Muslims as a potential terrorist organization and sentence its members to lengthy prison terms. It is clear that the majority of Muslims arrested after the terrorist attacks in March and April 2004 were 'guilty' only of meeting to read the Koran and talk about God," he reported.

The US advisory commission on international religious freedom recently recommended that Washington add Uzbekistan to its official list of "countries of particular concern" - the world's most brazen persecutors of religion. The commission also urged that aid to the Uzbek government "be made contingent upon establishing and implementing a specific timetable for the government to take concrete steps" in observing human rights standards.

That would be a dramatic change from what happened last summer. As required by US human rights law, the State Department cut aid to Uzbekistan by $18 million. Within weeks, the Pentagon gave Karimov a new infusion of $21 million.

Unlike Ukraine, Uzbekistan offers no plausible scenario in the near future for genuine freedom. Karimov's successor might be a member of the current elite, or a leader of a powerful regional clan, or a Taliban-style Islamic extremist; the longer Karimov continues to crush all opposition via brute force, the more likely it will be the latter.

Washington need not take radical steps to bring down this hated despot, but it should be putting him at arm's length. Both he and other dictators - and their victims - need to see that the US does not remain best friends with those who torture and murder their own people.

• Lawrence A. Uzzell is president of International Religious Freedom Watch, an independent research center that investigates state-enforced religious conformity. He spent seven years in Russia monitoring religious freedom in the former Soviet Republics.
0 Replies
Walter Hinteler
Reply Mon 30 May, 2005 03:37 pm
This is related to the three US senator's visit:

Uzbek Police Detain Opposition Activists in New Crackdown, Party Leader Says

By Aziz Nuritov Associated Press Writer
Published: May 30, 2005

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan (AP) - Police detained dozens of opposition activists over the weekend in a fresh crackdown on dissent after this month's violent uprising in eastern Uzbekistan, an opposition party leader said Monday.
At least 20 activists who had come to the Uzbek capital for a party meeting were detained Monday, and other party members were arrested earlier, said Vasilya Inoyatova, leader of the outlawed Unity Party.

"Within the last two days, police have detained dozens of our party members, saying we are hiding terrorists involved in the recent uprising in the Fergana Valley," Inoyatova said, referring to the eastern valley where the uprising occurred. Inoyatova told The Associated Press that she, her husband and 26-year-old son were among those arrested.

Inoyatova and her relatives were released after several hours at a police station, she said. She didn't know what had happened to the other detainees.

Two public defenders from the trial of the 23 religious businessmen that triggered the unrest were also arrested Saturday in Andijan on unknown charges, Inoyatova said. The two are activists of the Ezgulik human rights group which she also leads, she said.

The uprising erupted in Andijan on May 13, when militants overran a local prison and government headquarters and thousands of their supporters rallied in the streets. Uzbek authorities say 173 people were killed, but deny police or soldiers opened fire at unarmed civilians.

Rights advocates say up to 750 people were killed. If the higher number is true, it would be one of the deadliest crackdowns on a street demonstration since the Chinese government cleared Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Separately, human rights activist Surat Ikramov said Monday that police were preventing him from leaving his home in Tashkent and that he had received calls from many other activists who had been either detained or forcibly isolated in their homes.

On Sunday, Inoyatova and representatives of three other outlawed opposition parties met U.S. Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and John Sununu, R-N.H., who added their voices to Western calls for an international investigation of the bloodshed.

Authoritarian President Islam Karimov has rejected such an inquiry, saying Uzbek authorities would conduct their own review. He has blamed the unrest on Islamic extremists, accusing them of killing hostages and using civilians as human shields.

The U.S. legislators said the Uzbek government's harsh response to the unrest had made it difficult to maintain the relations that Washington would like to have with its ally in the war on terror. Uzbekistan hosts hundreds of American troops at an air base near the border with Afghanistan.
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Reply Mon 30 May, 2005 03:41 pm
McCain didn't go to Uzbekistan alone.
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Reply Mon 30 May, 2005 03:42 pm
Oh, I see we doubleposted there in a way, Lash, bringing the same news twice. I read it in the Herald Tribune over dinner - normally dont get to read that paper but my boss had passed me her copy.

Posting it was the very reason I actually came to the internet cafe just now!

Lash wrote:
I feel like I may need to say--with these geopolitical upheavals, I generally start by questioning the general opinion. I have read some, but not enough to make a comfortable, definitive statement of opinion on this situation. I'm still thinking and reading. When I come out of what may seem like...left field...or seem to be leaning in a direction due to my line of questions...understand that when they are questions...they're just questions--accumilating as much information as I can about all angles.

If in my turn I seem overly aggressive in fending against what may be phantom opposition, its really because of this ... let's call it the trauma of 1988.

A dictator, who had already for a decade and a half been known to be a real baddie, but had been supported nevertheless as a strategic ally against the danger of fundamentalist fervour that was brewing in a nearby state, crossed one more border into the truly brutal when he gassed an entire town.

Outrage, when it erupted, came from the same old quarters. Several Scandinavian governments condemned the dictator's terror. The European Parliament and the Socialist International followed suit. But the major transatlantic players remained strangely restrained. In fact, they blocked a proposed UN declaration to condemn it. The protestors meanwhile were mocked as the usual idealist peaceniks, who knew nothing about realpolitik.

Eventually, however, even the US Senate agreed on new legislation that would, in retaliation, cut the country's support to the dictator and in fact impose sanctions (see here). The White House however worked against it and managed to block it. Instead, the dictator got new tranches of financial aid.

We now know how that dictator, Saddam Hussein, emboldened by having gotten away with gassing the Kurds, would three years later try occupying an entire country. Another twelve years later, those same events of 1988 were tabled as a valid, retrospective reason to after all not just impose sanctions, but invade the country.

I so hope we've all wised up since. And that Mr. Mc Cain and his colleagues will make it through the Senate - and not be vetoed by another Republican President. May they succeed where Clayborne Pell (D) and Jesse Helms (R) back then failed. And may it make some bleedin' difference ... <sighs>
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Reply Mon 30 May, 2005 03:52 pm
The gassing of the Kurds and the betrayal of them even later by idealist and UN puppet, George Bush I was indeed a low point in our history.

Sometimes, diplomacy just doesn't cut it.

Glad his son could finish what he left undone.
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Reply Wed 15 Jun, 2005 07:42 am
Bad news on the international diplomacy front; and you can blame it, as usual, on Donald Rumsfeld.

U.S. Opposed Calls at NATO for Probe of Uzbek Killings
Officials Feared Losing Air Base Access

By R. Jeffrey Smith and Glenn Kessler
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, June 14, 2005; A15

Defense officials from Russia and the United States last week helped block a new demand for an international probe into the Uzbekistan government's shooting of hundreds of protesters last month, according to U.S. and diplomatic officials.

British and other European officials had pushed to include language calling for an independent investigation in a communique issued by defense ministers of NATO countries and Russia after a daylong meeting in Brussels on Thursday. But the joint communique merely stated that "issues of security and stability in Central Asia, including Uzbekistan," had been discussed.

The outcome obscured an internal U.S. dispute over whether NATO ministers should raise the May 13 shootings in Andijan at the risk of provoking Uzbekistan to cut off U.S. access to a military air base on its territory.

The communique's wording was worked out after what several knowledgeable sources called a vigorous debate in Brussels between U.S. defense officials, who emphasized the importance of the base, and others, including State Department representatives at NATO headquarters, who favored language calling for a transparent, independent and international probe into the killings of Uzbekistan civilians by police and soldiers.

State and Defense department spokesmen, asked to comment about the debate, said that Washington has one policy and that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld -- at the ministerial meeting -- verbally endorsed previous statements about the incident by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and President Bush.

Other officials said the disagreements between Defense and State officials reflect a continuing rift in the administration over how to handle a breach of human rights that has come under sharp criticism by the State Department, the European Union and some U.S. lawmakers.

Rice has said publicly that international involvement in an inquiry into the killings in Andijan is essential, and she has declined an Uzbek invitation for Washington to send observers to a commission of inquiry controlled by the parliament. Three U.S. officials said Uzbek President Islam Karimov has retaliated against her criticism by recently curtailing certain U.S. military flights into the air base at Karshi-Khanabad, in the country's southeast. The U.S. military considers the base a vital logistics hub in its anti-terrorism efforts.

Four sources familiar with a private discussion among the ministers on Thursday said that the Defense Department's stance on the Brussels communique's language placed it in roughly the same camp as the Russians -- but for different reasons. The Russian position, as spelled out by Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov in statements before and after the ministerial meeting, is that the incident, although alarming, was "inspired" by Afghanistan.

Ivanov said it is NATO's responsibility to control terrorism there more aggressively, but added: "We do not want to . . . put any extraordinary pressure on anybody" about the shootings.

The Defense Department position, articulated before the meeting began by Mira Ricardel, the acting assistant secretary for international security policy, was that "the NATO-Russia communique may not be the most appropriate place" to demand an international inquiry into the massacre, she confirmed in a telephone interview. [..] Another official privy to the deliberations described her opposition to mentioning the word "investigation" as unequivocal.

The British view was that the communique was an ideal venue for making the demand, since Uzbekistan prizes its existing military links to NATO and a call by defense ministers would carry substantial weight. One U.S. official said Britain was prepared for a time to hold up the communique if the language was not included.

[..] a senior diplomat in Washington said that "there's clearly inter-agency tension over Uzbekistan. . . . The State Department certainly seems to be extremely cool on Karimov," while the Pentagon wants to avoid upsetting the Uzbekistan government.

A senior State Department official, who called The Washington Post at the Defense Department's request, denied any "split of views." But other government officials depicted this week's spat over the communique as a continuation of frictions that erupted last summer, when then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell would not certify that Uzbekistan had met its human rights obligations. The decision led to a cutoff of $18 million for U.S. training for Uzbekistan's military forces.

Weeks later, Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited Tashkent, the Uzbek capital, and criticized that decision as "very shortsighted"; he also announced that the United States would give $21 million for another purpose -- bioterrorism defense.

More recently, the senior State Department official confirmed, State and Defense officials disagreed about a cable addressing Uzbekistan's continued participation in the military's Partnership for Peace program. After the Andijan massacre, the State Department had proposed a blanket suspension of cooperation. But the Defense Department recommended a case-by-case review of cooperative programs -- the position that prevailed.

[..] There are stirrings of dissent on Capitol Hill about placing access to the air base at the center of U.S. policy, however. Six senators warned Rumsfeld and Rice in a letter last week that "in the aftermath of the Andijan massacre, America's relationship with Uzbekistan cannot remain unchanged."

The senators -- Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), John McCain (R-Ariz.), John E. Sununu (R-N.H.), Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) and Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) -- added that "we believe that the United States must be careful about being too closely associated with a government that has killed hundreds of demonstrators and refused international calls for a transparent investigation." They suggested that the administration explore alternative basing arrangements "in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and elsewhere in the region" to give Washington more flexibility.

The European parliament, in a statement Thursday, went further, calling on Washington to halt negotiations with Uzbekistan over long-term access to the base and urging Uzbek authorities "to bring those responsible for the massacre in Andijan to trial." [..]
0 Replies
Reply Wed 15 Jun, 2005 07:45 am
Also, check the thread about Georgia for info about escalated rumblings in Azerbaijan, a country where Western observers face much of the same dilemmas. (I'd had stuff about AZ before that I'd wanted to post, but it was in German and I hadnt found the time to translate.)
0 Replies
Walter Hinteler
Reply Thu 23 Jun, 2005 01:49 pm
The Kyrgyz prosecutor general's office said Thursday that Kyrgyzstan plans to deport a group of 29 Uzbek asylum seekers despite UN denunciation of four earlier deportations over the possibility that the returned individuals may face torture in Uzbekistan.
A top Kyrgyz prosecutor referred to the refugees as "criminals" and said "they need to be punished, their place is in prison." Hundreds of Uzbeks fled to Kyrgyzstan in May after government troops opened fire on protestors, reportedly killing hundreds in the city of Andijan. The 29 asylum seekers are expected to be turned over to the Uzbek government within a week.

From the BBC: Kyrgyzstan to deport more Uzbeks
0 Replies
Reply Sat 25 Jun, 2005 04:10 pm
Interesting to get PNAC's read on this


June 14, 2005



SUBJECT: U.S. Policy on Uzbekistan

I would like to draw your attention to an op-ed by Senator John McCain on U.S. policy towards Uzbekistan, "When Decency and Expediency Clash," in today's Financial Times (see below). Sen. McCain argues that the "brutal crackdown" last month in eastern Uzbekistan, where Uzbek forces may have killed hundreds of unarmed protestors, should prompt a clear and direct response from Washington:

"Either the government of Uzbekistan must make immediate, fundamental changes in the way it operates, or America's relations with it must change fundamentally.... To do otherwise risks damaging America's credibility as the US puts even greater priority on the promotion of human rights and democracy abroad....

"Using sticks and carrots to encourage positive change may not be successful, but it would put the US on the right side of history. It would show the Uzbek people that we support their freedom, not simply our narrow security interests, and would actually strengthen our security in the long run. For if we have learnt any lesson from the attacks of September 11 2001, it is that, where repression and despair rule, extremism and violence breed."

However, it is clear from press reports (see "U.S. Opposed Calls at NATO for Probe of Uzbek Killings," Washington Post, June 14, 2005) that Bush administration officials are divided on what to do about Uzbekistan. The Defense Department is skittish about rocking the boat with the Uzbek government and losing access to an important military base being used to support the war on terror. Meanwhile, other elements within the administration are worried that ignoring the brutal behavior of the Uzbek government will significantly damage the credibility of President Bush's policy of promoting democratic governance around the world.

Admittedly, there is no easy choice when such foreign policy priorities come into conflict with each other. And it is a fact of history and statecraft that difficult choices and compromises must sometimes be made. But, that said, the fundamental question to be asked in this case is whether the American military's use of the Uzbek base is a necessity or not. It might be useful; but is it necessary? If it's not, then as Sen. McCain writes, "the US has no choice but to re-evaluate all aspects of its relationship with Uzbekistan."

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