Friday, December 14, 2012

Torture is in fashion

At a time when the tortured chickens of UN and CIA rendition are coming home to roost Gulnara Karimova flaunts herself as a dedicated follower of fashion and yoga exponent. She is also described as a diplomat, executing the duties of a UN envoy, a screenwriter, oh, and a jewellery designer. Keeping active is an important feature in the life of a dictator's daughter. She has always been conscious about her image even though two years back she was described, thanks to Wikileaks cables, as the most despised woman in Uzbekistan.

Her father is the notorious Islam Karimov, who has pretty well set himself up as permanent president of Uzbekistan and all the speculation suggests she is most likely to follow in his footsteps if he retires, being labelled in one Russian blog as the Mafia Princess. Karimov became president in 1990 and has no opposition, since serious opponents tend to disappear without trace. He is friends with US power-mongers and feels as comfortable in the presence of George W. Bush as Hilary Clinton appears in Karimov's company.

Photo courtesy of Dominic Streatfeild's, A History of the World since 9/11, published in February 2011 (UK) by Atlantic Books, August 2011 (US) by Bloomsbury Press.

The issue of torture in Uzbekistan was raised by Craig Murray when he was ambassador there but because of our transatlantic allegiance it was thought better to get rid of Murray than bring Karimov to international justice. Karimov's human rights record is even worse than that of the United States. As well as the disappearances of his opponents he has been criticised for his regime's widespread use of torture and the exploitation of children in the cotton fields.

Yesterday, both in Strasbourg and the UK, two torture victims were compensated for their ordeals.£2.2 million pounds of taxpayers money was paid in compensation to Libyan dissident, Sami al Saadi, for being illegally rendered back to Libya to face torture under the Gadaffi regime when Tony Blair was still friends with Gadaffi, while from Germany, Khaled el Masri, was rendered by the CIA to Macedonia where in front of Macedonian police, who witnessed the scene, CIA operatives buggered, shackled and beat him. The European Court of Human Rights ordered Macedonia to pay him €60,000 (£49,000) in compensation and requested that the US must apologise and make a voluntary contribution to Mr el Masri. Anybody see a connection that two cases are concluded at the same time? It is not a coincidence. The vast sums are paid to keep names like Jack Straw, and his culpability, off the record. It is hush money!

Today I co-wrote with editorial input an article concerned with Sweden's rendition programme at the behest of the CIA, concentrating mainly on the cases of Ahmed Agiza and Muhammad al Zery, who were extradited to Egypt where they were both imprisoned and tortured. In both cases the men were paid compensation of 3 million Kronors. Mr. Agiza spent 10 years in prison. We have British citizens, Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan, for whom this blog tried to prevent extradition, suffering in US supermax prisons because Theresa May extradited them to the US even though they had already spent unreasonable times in UK prisons without even being charged. They have done nothing wrong but in the US 98% of prisoners confess in plea bargains just to get a shorter sentence because of the harshness of conditions. It too is torture.

Back to Gulnara Karimov and her repressive regime backed by the US and UK. Thankfully not everybody is as complacent as the UK and US governments in seeking to end this human rights abuse. While Gulnara has been posting pictures of herself in suggestive Yoga postures on Twitter, and telling the world how she does not eat meat, only chicken and fish, Andrew Stroehlein has been questioning her country's record, as Uzbekistan's envoy to the UN, on torture, the Andijan massacre of April 2005, child labour, lack of freedom of expression and a whole host of other serious abuses that are not going to go away. So perhaps when she's meditating after her next Yoga session, she can meditate on some of those issues.

1 comment:

  1. The abuses in Uzbekistan are well captured in this trailer of a film by Michael Anderson. Some images may be discomforting for non-psychopaths.