(Speech at briefing — the 12th Annual Meeting of Parliament at OSCE in Rotterdam)
07.07.2003 When human rights activists compare Uzbekistan to a big prison foreigners think that it is a metaphor. But having visited this country they get convinced that it is a reality. Huge army of punishing organizations keeps vaunted stability, and yet, each citizen of this country actually is the potential prisoner. You may go out and get arrested. And if you are afraid to go out, do not leave your home; anyway you will be arrested at your house. Do not ask «why», otherwise you will get extra prison term.
Karimov constantly keeps saying that there is rest and peace in Uzbekistan, and there is no war. It is the truth. There are no wars in prisons, but of course there is dead silence in there. The only things that break this silence are groans of tortured prisoners. Karimov has been ruling Uzbekistan for more than 13 years. The new generation — generation of prison already has appeared. With this generation Karimov is going to build the great future. We constantly keep saying that it should not go on. However it is going on and on. The state terror against people is still continuing.
The Uzbek poets have been not writing poems for 13 years, they have been writing appeals to Bush, then to Clinton and again to Bush «to affect a course of events «. Nobody knows yet who has affected whom. But, Clinton has left, Daddy Bush has left, and it is obvious that son Bush will leave too, but not Karimov. In May of this year the European Bank had the annual forum in Tashkent. This forum was organized in spite of objections of human rights organizations and democratic principles. We were not shocked with it; the similar double standard in relations to our countries for us is not a new. We were shocked by another picture: when Jacque Lemmer’s criticism addressed to the president of Uzbekistan sounded from a tribune of a forum; the president ripped off his headphones and hurled it aside as if it was a snake. He did it demonstratively and with confidence; with the confidence of the partner of the great power.
Then, the president of European Bank Lemmer who publicly criticized Karimov in Tashkent sent thank you letter to the dictator after the forum. Jacque Lemmer thanked him for his patience, as though apologizing for excesses in game of democracy. This fact is very symbolical; it shows impartial true, reproaches us optimists, who are restless to trust loyalties of the western democracy in relations to our countries. The west, especially the USA, criticizes the Central Asian regimes more to calm down the public than to have a desire to change position in the countries where they have their national interests. Here raises a question: does the policy of United States lead to the preservation of a totalitarian regime in Uzbekistan, and is it in national interests of USA?
United States of America, in the justification of its politics of dual nature in Uzbekistan, specify absence of democratic institutions, dissociation of opposition groups and “alternativeness” of the leader. In fact, the situation is so tragic, that absence of the leader in our country would be a minimum damage for people than a presence of today’s president; and, the same situation with parliament. If parliament were replaced with a herd of horses it would be less harmful to people than today’s one.
I want to tell, “Alternativeness of the leader” it is no more than demagogy of supporters to preserve this status in Uzbekistan. All help of the West provided till today in Uzbekistan has been used to strengthen the bases of the regime, but not democracy. Everything has been doing in this way to defer occurrence of alternatives to Karimov. And it is obvious, that for the sake of prolongation of his tyranny, he obeys everything that his patrons demand from him. In a word, Karimov got lucky. But fortune of dictators is unfortunate for peoples who are under the power of these lucky dictators.
Till September 11, 1999 Karimov was lonely in the world of politics and it was expected that he eventually would be compelled to concede the requirements of opposition forces of the country and would start democratic transformations. But there was a tragedy on September 11. It became the tragedy not only for Americans, but also for Uzbeks. September 11 provided Karimov with support of the USA, the greatest power of the world. In a shadow of this greatness it is possible to do anything you have in your mind. Anyhow, it seems so to our dictators.