In September of this year a Senate Appropriations committee voted to repeal a Bush-era restriction on military aid to the dictatorial regime of Islam Karimov regime in Uzbekistan, with the help of the Obama administration.
Waiving this restriction will, if the bill is enacted, allow military and police aid to the Uzbek government, all on the taxpayer’s dime.
However, it is not just a matter of money, this represents another instance of the Obama administration propping up brutal dictators while pretending to care about human rights.
The entire justification for attacking Libya was that Gaddafi was engaging in egregious human rights violations against his people.
Yet, when a similar situation is evolving in Bahrain and Uzbekistan, the U.S. does not only stay silent but even provides the aid necessary to continue the crackdown.
In the case of Bahrain, the Obama administration was preparing to sell the ruling regime $53,000,000 in arms before postponing the sale until the completion of an inquiry into their human rights violations, due November 23rd.
The restrictions on aid to Uzbekistan have been in place since 2004 due to the brutal dictatorship of Islam Karimov which has continued “to silence civil society activists, independent journalists, and all political opposition; severely curtail freedom of expression and religion; and organize forced child labor on a massive scale”, according to a joint letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The joint letter expresses concern over Washington’s move to resume “business as usual” with the Karimov regime and was signed by 20 organizations, some much more questionable than others (like the International Crisis Group, for example).
Setting aside the suspicious and thoroughly untrustworthy organizations that signed the letter to Clinton, the move by Washington clearly highlights the hypocrisy that is involved in America’s approach to human rights abroad.
Human rights only matter to the morally bankrupt politicians in Washington when there is a secondary benefit of some kind and when a regime is strategically vital to our so-called “national interests” then human rights violations are swept under the rug.
For instance, the Karimov regime has been charged with jailing and killing dissidents, some of which have been boiled alive, according to doctors who examined the body of 35-year-old Muzafar Avazov, an individual who was detained in Uzbekistan’s Jaslyk Prison.
Regardless of the many charges leveled against the brutal Karimov regime, Secretary of State Clinton said that the dictatorship was “showing signs of improving its human rights record and expanding political freedoms.”
She added that the United States is seeking to strengthen its ties to the Uzbek regime because they are “proving very helpful to the U.S. in bringing supplies into Afghanistan and supporting U.S.-led efforts to rebuild its southern neighbor.”
Here is where the typical ulterior motive comes to light. Lifting the ban on aid has nothing to do with improving human rights; it has everything to do with the Uzbek regime playing ball with the colonial nation building efforts in Afghanistan.
This is especially pertinent given Pakistan’s slow move away from the United States and towards rising powers like China.
All of the evidence supporting the claim that Karimov is improving the situation in his country is based on his “word.”
A senior official from the State Department, when asked “when was the last time you were aware of that some of Karimov’s thugs actually boiled people alive? Or is that a thing of the past?” said, “That’s a thing of the past.”
When a questioner said, “But it wasn’t that long ago,” the State Department official flippantly responded, “That’s right. Oh, well.”
When confronted about the human rights violations committed by the Uzbek dictator, and his commitment to improving them, the senior State Department official said, “He wasn’t defensive at all.”
A questioner retorted, “But do you believe this?” To which the official responded, “Yeah. I do believe him.”
Based on what? Surely you cannot trust a vicious dictator based on just his word?
But apparently that is exactly what they are doing, evidenced by the official saying, “he’s said several times that he’s committed to [improving human rights]. He’s made a speech last November where he talked about this.”
Karimov has a history of brutal oppression of his people, especially in May of 2005 when, in response to so-called pro-democracy demonstrations in Andijan and other cities, the Uzbek government slaughtered over 700 protesters in a two-day period.
The Bush administration then blocked a NATO call for an internal investigation into the massacre but a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report claimed that the Uzbek government forces utilized “indiscriminate use of lethal force against unarmed people” based on the testimony of eyewitnesses.
Of course, HRW is far from a reliable organization and their motives should always be questioned and weighed against the evidence they are presenting.
Karimov claimed that the police acted independent of his orders, but the British Independent reported, “He was in command of the situation having flown to Andijon from the capital Tashkent and almost certainly personally authorized the use of…deadly force.”
The same senior State Department official quoted above said of the incident, “We’ve definitely – we’ve moved on from that.”
A senior analyst for Foreign Policy in Focus, a professor of politics and chair of Middle Eastern studies at the University of San Francisco, Stephen Zunes, points out that if this goes through, it will give other brutal dictators the green light to kill dissidents while still receiving American assistance.
Zunes says that “This is nothing short of a license to kill. Other despots will likely interpret such assistance to indicate that warnings – such as those given by the Obama administration to the Egyptian military back in February that ties would be severed if pro-democracy protesters were massacred – are not to be taken seriously.”
Given the United States’ history of selective attention to human rights violations and even more selective treatment of the violators, I do not think that anyone takes Washington’s warnings seriously.
That is, of course, unless you don’t play ball with America, in which case you and your peoples’ heads are on the chopping block as we have seen in Libya.
Clearly the support of the Uzbek regime is a strategic move to keep a channel open for transport of troops and military equipment to and from Afghanistan.
Karimov improving the situation in Uzbekistan is the last thing on Washington’s mind as we can see by their blind belief in his “word.”
The complete lack of coverage of this issue in the mainstream media is nothing short of disturbing and it is yet another instance of the corporate controlled media presenting a narrative which is wholly removed from reality.
Anything that contradicts said narrative is either ignored or spun and it will be interesting to see how the mainstream media chooses to treat this issue if aid is issued to the Karimov regime.