COL Report: US and NATO sleeping with a monster
Uzbekistan is a close ally, and one of the worst violators of human rights.
A close and key American ally in the war on terror is also one world's worst abusers of human rights. Under the current regime, Uzbekistan is practicing routine torture of its own people, but Western governments are ignoring the situation.
Uzbek refugees crowd around an armoured vehicle with Kyrgyz soldiers in the southern city of Osh while waiting to cross the border into Uzbekistan.
The report urges sanctions against specific government officials and entities.
It's believed that Western governments are ignoring the abuse precisely because Uzbekistan is a critical ally in the war on terror. The country borders Afghanistan to the north, and the US military and NATO operate from bases there. Without the support of Uzbekistan, Western governments would have a difficult time supplying their troops in Afghanistan.
However, Steve Swerdlow, of HRW said "The West has to wake up to the fact that Uzbekistan is a pariah state with one of the worst human rights records. Being located next to Afghanistan should not give Uzbekistan a pass on its horrendous record of torture and repression."
Swerdlow also warned that the Arab Spring movement ousted similarly repressive regimes across the Middle East, a significant warning because a similar events in Uzbekistan could lead to the loss of a critical ally in the region.
Uzbekistan has long been a nexus of political corruption and abuse. Even before its 1991 breakaway from the Soviet Union, the regional government was notorious for how it handled criminals and other people that were unpopular with the regime.
The current regime is led by President Islam Karminov, who is widely regarded as one of the world's most brutal -- yet least known political leaders.
To give an idea of how significant the human rights abuses are, consider the 2002 case of Muzafar Avazov. Imprisoned for religious reasons, Avazov was beaten and tortured and at one point was submerged by interrogators in boiling water. He subsequently died of his injuries. That case gained international headlines, but his death appears to be in vain since no meaningful action was taken to correct the system or bring the people who committed the atrocity to justice.
The United Nations reported in 2003 that torture in Uzbekistan was both "systematic and widespread".
The only response the U.S. Congress made was the passing of legislation that forbade direct aid and military funding to the current government. They also imposed some limits on the training of that country's military officers. Still, the gesture was more token then meaningful.
In 2005, the government massacred hundreds of protesters. In response, the US and other Western states demanded an independent international investigation. However, President Karimov retaliated by shutting down a critical airbase, and nothing came of the outrage.
About half of NATO supplies pass through Uzbekistan. And with Pakistan closing NATO supply lines to that country Uzbekistan has doubled its political capital virtually overnight. It is therefore highly unlikely that the United States or NATO will do anything that could possibly offend Karminov and his regime.
Of course this is the height of irony. The war on terror is being thought precisely to prevent the wanton destruction and harm of innocent human beings. If in pursuing the war on terror the United States and its allies participate either directly or indirectly in the destruction of innocent human life by means of government repression and torture, then a case can be easily made that the US and its allies are behaving almost as reprehensibly as the terrorists they are trying to bring to justice.
© 2011, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Uzbekistan, NATO, US, torture
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