Our Man In Tashkent
Living in Tashkent, in the heartland of the new American empire, Craig Murray is the stuff of old-fashioned adventure novels. He is a womanizing diplomat with a fondness for drink and a history of institutionalized depression. He has told the torturers to their face that they are evil, and he has told his bosses to shut up and leave him alone. He is still the British ambassador to Uzbekistan. The Guardian has an excellent article on this fascinating man.
He has had quite a year.
"I had a period under psychiatric care as an in-patient for depression last autumn. I've gone through the break-up of my marriage. In November, I suffered a pulmonary embolism and very nearly died. It is most unlikely that I will be an ambassador again after I leave [my post here], I think for the very reason you are interviewing me now. An aura of controversy is not one that is useful to the diplomatic corps."And this "aura of controversy" is because he couldn't stay silent in the face of massive human rights abuses by the American ally.
"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 authorities." ...You might imagine the stink this speech caused!
In October 2002, Murray made a speech to his fellow diplomats and Uzbekistani officials at a human rights conference in Tashkent in which he became the first western official for four years to state publicly that "Uzbekistan is not a functioning democracy", and to highlight the "prevalence of torture in Uzbekistani prisons" in a system where "brutality is inherent". Highlighting a case in which two men were boiled to death, he added: "All of us know that this is not an isolated incident."