Sunday, May 15, 2005
However, this does not negate our govt's ability to speak out against a problem area, or to withdraw support from a problem area.
Uzbekistan. A problem. They live under a harsh dictator and human rights abuses are the norm. Now there are some uprisings going on there which Karimov (the president) is blaming on Muslims. Yes, the recent protests and fighting have been spawned (so it's said) by supposed radical Muslims who broke some of their own out of jail, saying that there was no reason for their imprisonment and the trials were not fair, etc.
The BBC had a few things to say. Check out the articles on the sidebar as well.
Just over a year ago, Uzbekistan saw violent attacks on police, shootouts and a harsh security clampdown.
Many observers thought those events would prompt a rethink by Western governments, especially the US, which had built a close relationship with what is undeniably a cruel, authoritarian regime.
In the period since then, little has changed in Uzbekistan. The political opposition is still not tolerated, the media are not free.
Uzbekistan remains a close ally of the US, with its airspace and military facilities made available for the ongoing operation in Afghanistan.
The US military presence may well have acquired a permanent character. President Bush has never publicly criticised Uzbekistan's denial of freedom to its citizens.
Meanwhile, the US State Department's website carries reports on the "systematic" use of torture by the Uzbek government, but also, somehow, manages to call it "a stable and moderate force".
A bit of political trickery it seems to me (by the US). Can't risk losing our airbases over a few pesky things like human rights abuses.
The Associate Press also put out an article talking about the recent violence.
ANDIJAN, Uzbekistan - An estimated 500 bodies have been laid out in a school in the eastern Uzbek city where troops fired on a crowd of protesters to put down an uprising, a doctor said Sunday, corroborating witness accounts of hundreds killed in the fighting.
Uzbekistan hosts a U.S. air base in the Karshi-Khanabad region, 90 miles from the Afghan border, to support military operations in that country after the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States. The number of troops there has reached several thousand at times. The base is more than 430 miles southwest of Andijan.
The White House on Saturday declined to comment, although press secretary Scott McClellan on Friday urged both the government and demonstrators to "exercise restraint."