A Case Of
By Ghali Hassan
22 May, 2005
imagine that up to 750 innocent people killed in Cuba after Cuban soldiers
opened fire on peaceful demonstrations against the regime of President
Fidel Castro. Would the U.S. governments and its allies support the
demonstrators and condemned the brutality of the Castro regime? Chances
are that the U.S. government and its allies will invade Cuba, and if
successful will remove the Castro regime and replace it with a U.S-friendly
In the case of Uzbekistan,
the regime of President Islam Karimov is a U.S. friendly regime. They
shot at us like rabbits, a teenager told The Washington Post in
Andijan, where Uzbek government troops fired directly into a crowd of
demonstrators killing hundreds. Uzbek soldiers fired into a crowd,
including women, children and their own police comrades begging them
to stop shooting, reported Reuters quoting eyewitnesses. In
the end hundreds of bodies -- including those of women and children
-- filled the square, an Associated Press reporter said. At
first, they shot them from machine guns mounted on their vehicles, and
then soldiers followed on foot mercilessly finishing off the wounded,
including women and children, said a reporter for the Russian
news organization Fergana.ru. Human rights observers in the eastern
city of Andizhan said that up to 750 people have killed. Many people
have fled the violence to neighbouring countries.
The violence took
place as a result of protesters freeing as many 2000 businessmen and
political prisoners, who have been unjustly, accused by
the Uzbek regime and the Bush Administrators as Islamic terrorists.
A common pretext used to suppress dissents and democratic rights by
many governments around the world today. The main cause for the uprising
is the brutal policy of Karimovs government combined with mass
unemployment and poverty.
As it is publicly
known, the Bush Administration is happy to support the anti-government
protests against governments that are not on good terms with Washington,
but turn blind eye to pro-democracy protests against U.S. friendly despotic
regimes. Following the massacre of innocent Uzbek women and children
on Friday, the Bush administration blamed the demonstrators for what
happened. White House spokesman Scott McClellan said: We have
had concerns about human rights in Uzbekistan, but we are concerned
about the outbreak of violence, particularly by some members of a terrorist
organization that were freed from prison. The demonstrators, according
to Dr. Kirill Nourzhanov, an expert on the region at the Australian
National University, the demonstrators were anything but Islamists.
It's just ordinary folks who are fed up with President Karimov's authoritarian
regime. Even by Central Asian standards the regime is extremely
corrupt, very despotic and has done next to nothing in terms of reforming
the economy. It's a genuine social protest, he added.
The attitude of the U.S. administration and its Western allies is consistent
with the cliché of Western double standard to portray any democratic
movement in pro-Western dictatorships as a brand of Islamic extremism.
The Bush Administration
and most Western governments have close ties to the Uzbek government.
Indeed, the regime of president Karimov is one of the Bush administration's
closet allies in Central Asia despite the country's notorious human
rights record. In 2002, the U.S. paid $79 million in aid for the country's
military and police. President Bush, former Secretary of State Colin
Powell and Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld have all personally
met Karimov. Uzbekistan has the largest U.S. military base in the region
from which the U.S. projects its imperial agenda.
According to the
U.S-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) torture and police brutality are
widespread in Uzbekistan. The country has no independent political parties,
no free and fair elections, and no free media. In 2004, HRW released
a 319-page report detailing the use of torture by Uzbekistan's security
services. The report noted that Uzbek government was carrying out a
campaign of torture and intimidation against Muslims that had
seen 7,000 people imprisoned, and documented at least 10 deaths, including
one man who was boiled to death in 2002, including Muzafar Avozov,
who was boiled to death in 2002.
Uzbek government plays host to U.S. torture of detainees through the
widely used extraordinary rendition. A system of torture
by proxy, where U.S. authorities send detainees to countries with poor
human rights records where they are routinely tortured and abused. UN
special rapporteur on torture, Professor Theo van Boven, denounced torture
in Uzbekistan as widespread and systemic. Nevertheless,
in December President Bush decided to keep giving aid to Uzbekistan
despite the country's failure to meet U.S. conditions on human rights.
In analysing U.S.
foreign policy of double standard, Noam Chomsky wrote: When enemies
commit crimes, theyre crimes. In fact, were allowed to expand
them, lie about them, make up stories about them and so on, but surely
to get angry and infuriated about them. When we commit crimes, they
didnt happen. The enemies are those nations
and governments who are not subservient to U.S. policy, and with whom
the U.S. administration does not have friendly relations.
Meanwhile, Uzbeks will continue to suffer and die in friendly
Ghali Hassan lives
in Perth, Western Australia.