The Uzbek Perspective

by Nathan Hamm on 10/15/2004 · 3 comments reports on the Murray story and lets us know the opinion within Uzbek officialdom.

Uzbekistan hastened to denounce all allegations concerning its secret services. An official of the Uzbek Foreign Ministry who insisted on anonymity told Reuters that Murray has no evidence of tortures of Moslem dissenters in Uzbek prisons or of transfer of the data obtained in this manner to the Americans.

“I admire Mr. Murray’s profound knowledge but how can he prove his claims?” the Uzbek source said.

It is common knowledge that official Tashkent wanted a more detached diplomat in Murray’s place. “We would like his actions to be aimed at something different, namely at rapprochement between our countries,” Reuters quoted the Uzbek source as saying. “Unfortunately, we cannot expect it from Murray. He transgressed all norms of diplomatic behavior.”

They also mention their own view,

Departure of the diplomat who irritated and embarrassed the authorities of both countries strips the Uzbek human rights community and opposition of substantial moral support. Absence of radical criticism of the authorities of Uzbekistan will weaken democratic forces’ hopes for sociopolitical changes in the country.

While I commend Murray for voicing his support of the human rights cause in Uzbekistan, I have to again mention my skepticism that his penchant for making a scene in the Western press does Uzbeks any good. I also have to point out that it is entirely unclear that Murray offered any tangible support to human rights supporters in his duties as ambassador. Words are nice, but they don’t release people like Ruslan Sharipov from prison (I’m still waiting for HRW to mention his release and give credit to where it’s due…).

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Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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Laurence October 15, 2004 at 5:11 pm

Yes it is strange there is no praise from HRW, ICG, RFE/RL, et al.

Nathan Hamm October 15, 2004 at 5:45 pm

Nobody has even reported it.

In fact, if you search for him in Google News, all you get is this. Now, I know that very few people knew of his release at that point, but it’s still kind of odd. In fact, my source got the news from an NGO (who would not answer my request for confirmation) and confirmed it through a telephone conversation. He was definintely not in Uzbekistan at that point.

It looks like they’re willing to let the story die with a whimper. I have to suspect it’s because they weren’t the ones who proved instrumental in his release. Of course, I’m no big fan of these groups anyway.

Laurence October 15, 2004 at 9:41 pm

Nathan, why don’t you contact Google and see if the Argus can be put in their database as a news source, since you break some stories?

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