All of which explains why there has been not one single word of criticism of Uzbekistan’s human rights record by the co-alition government in the UK. There was not one single mention of human rights, of child slave labour, of political prisoners, of free elections, unbanning the opposition, of freedom of assembly, speech or religious belief, when the British government hosted official Uzbek parliamentary and trade delegations last month. There was not one word either in public or in private on any of these subjects.
The current British government loves Karimov. It has never issued even the mildest criticism. Boiling people alive and torturing political opponents to death is fine by them. We even deport him back extra dissidents to practice on. This British government succesfully pushed through the EU new preferential tariff access for Uzbek cotton picked by eight year old child slaves.
Money flows both way – as previously reported here, Karimov’s elder daughter Gulnara is getting a massive cut from the transport of all those NATO supplies through Uzbekistan.
But the latest bit of love-in with the Karimov family will astound you. William Hague is going to agree that Gulnara Karimova - the most hated person in Uzbekistan - can come and live in London as Uzbek Ambassador. The request for her to be accepted (“agrement” in diplomatic parlance, in French) – has been in for some time. The only obstacle remaining is to resolve how many of Gulnara’s seven bodyguards will be allowed to carry semi-automatic weapons on the streets of London.
Craig Murray is an author, broadcaster and human rights activist. He was British Ambassador to Uzbekistan from August 2002 to October 2004 and Rector of the University of Dundee from 2007 to 2010. - www.craigmurray.org.