Islam Karimov, the thug who was President of Uzbekistan for the last 27 years, has died at the age of 78 – unloved, unmourned, and with a special place reserved in hell for his monstrosities.
Karimov was a favourite of the UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and the US President George W. Bush, for joining them in the ‘war on terror’. He permitted the Pentagon to have a military base in Uzbekistan’s southern town of Karshi, giving the US closer proximity to Afghanistan in its hunt for Osama bin Laden.
In return, Karimov received some $500,000 million each year.
Karimov was an orphan who rose to become the Communist Party’s First Secretary in Uzbekistan in 1989. He declared Uzbekistan independent in August 1991 and won the first presidential election with a scarcely credible 86% of the turnout.
Uzbekistan under Karimov was a nasty, authoritarian place, where any attempt to speak out against his regime was met with atrocious tortures.
On 13 May 2005 around 400 anti-government protesters in Andijan were killed by police.
In 2004 Craig Murray, the UK’s former ambassador to Tashkent, the Uzbek capital, told The Guardian: “People come to me very often after being tortured. Normally this includes homosexual and heterosexual rape of close relatives in front of the victim; rape with objects such as broken bottles; asphyxiation; pulling out of fingernails; smashing of limbs with blunt objects; and use of boiling liquids including complete immersion of the body. This is not uncommon. Thousands of people a year suffer from this torture at the hands of the [Uzbek] authorities.”
It’s no surprise that an honest and outspoken ambassador could find no room in the British Foreign Office, and Murray left, his public unmasking of Karimov and the appalling regime he led unpalatable to the British authorities, keen not to offend such a staunch, if scummy, ally.
Murray has posted on his blog a worthy tribute: “Finally a message to Karimov, my old sparring partner. You won, you kept power and I lost, and got sacked for my pains. But then I am not dead, and when I am I shall not go to Hell. Good luck with that.”
Picture source: José Cruz/ABr (Agência Brasil) via Wikimedia Commons