Showing posts tagged as "andrew stroehlein"

Showing posts tagged andrew stroehlein

26 Jan
Tweets can’t hide Uzbekistan’s woeful record | CNN
By Andrew Stroehlein, Crisis Group’s Communications Director, and Steve Swerdlow
Recent Twitter conversations between the wannabe-jet-set daughter of Uzbekistan’s authoritarian ruler and critics of the country’s atrocious human rights record may have been unusual and amusing. They may have even brought a rare blip of international media attention to a reclusive regime the world normally seems happy to ignore.
What the tweets have not done, however, is improve anyone’s life in the miserably abusive state of Uzbekistan itself, where, among other things, torture in police custody is systematic, and over a million children and adults are subjected to forced labor in the cotton fields every year.
The fresh attention on Gulnara Karimova’s 140-character exchanges – in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Le Monde, Le Temps, PRI, and many others – is understandable. A tweet from the daughter of such an authoritarian ruler is indeed out of the ordinary, and that alone makes it newsworthy. But this is hardly the only “unusual” thing about her.
She is, in fact, a bit of a “weird news” magnet. Karimova is a diplomat who makes music videos, including a recent one with Russia’s newest citizen, Gérard Depardieu, and she even has her own perfume brand. She also has a line of jewelry, and she pops up at fashion shows to market and sell dresses she designs.
In fact, she seems to spend so much time promoting herself and her products that it is a wonder she has time to fulfill her official role as Uzbekistan’s permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva.
The Swiss city is home to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the U.N.’s Human Rights Council, two institutions that Uzbekistan tends to avoid. In particular, the Uzbek government has studiously ignored requests to visit by the Council’s “Special Procedures” mechanisms – independent experts who address thematic human rights issues around the world.
Uzbekistan is something of a repeat offender in this regard, having denied access to 11 special procedures in the last 11 years. This means they have refused to allow visits by the U.N.’s special rapporteurs on torture, on the situation of human rights defenders, on freedom of religion, on violence against women, on the independence of judges and lawyers, on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, on contemporary forms of slavery, on freedom of association and assembly and on cultural rights, as well as the working groups on arbitrary detention, and on enforced disappearances.
Given that Uzbekistan has little to be proud of in all these areas, it is perhaps not surprising that they prefer no such visitors and that Karimova spends her time cutting albums under her alter ego “Googoosha,” dancing with Depardieu, and promoting her perfume rather than cooperating with the U.N. human rights bodies in Geneva.
But no amount of perfume can hide the smell of Uzbekistan’s record, which for decades has been one of the most brutal in the world.
Human Rights Watch has been documenting this abusive record for years. It includes: the complete lack of political freedom and the imprisonment of civil society activists; systematic use of torture in police custody and in prisons; forced adult and child labor in the cotton fields; lack of accountability for the 2005 Andijan massacre, in which the government opened fire on mainly unarmed demonstrators, killing hundreds, and the show trials and persecution that followed; severe restrictions on freedom of expression; the denial of access for numerous international organizations and media outlets; and, of course, Uzbekistan’s continued failure to cooperate with the United Nations system of Special Procedures or any of the U.N.’s other monitoring bodies.
This is undoubtedly a long list, but the full accounting of this government’s crimes against its own people is far longer.
During her public Twitter conversation with one of us (Andrew), Karimova asked for details of these issues and promised to respond to them. We described some of the key horrors in a long open letter to her a month ago. The ambassador has so far not fulfilled her pledge to respond to these concerns, ignoring it as if it were a U.N. request.
Of course, regardless of the flash of an unusual media story, no one is fooled by a few tweets any more than they are by a new music video or a new clothing line unveiled at fashion shows.
We should not be distracted by Karimova’s jet-setting at all. The government she represents has a duty to end human rights abuses now, and she is in an official position that should be addressing these issues.
So, tweet that, Ambassador Karimova.
CNN
Photo: World Economic Forum/Flickr

Tweets can’t hide Uzbekistan’s woeful record | CNN

By Andrew Stroehlein, Crisis Group’s Communications Director, and Steve Swerdlow

Recent Twitter conversations between the wannabe-jet-set daughter of Uzbekistan’s authoritarian ruler and critics of the country’s atrocious human rights record may have been unusual and amusing. They may have even brought a rare blip of international media attention to a reclusive regime the world normally seems happy to ignore.

What the tweets have not done, however, is improve anyone’s life in the miserably abusive state of Uzbekistan itself, where, among other things, torture in police custody is systematic, and over a million children and adults are subjected to forced labor in the cotton fields every year.

The fresh attention on Gulnara Karimova’s 140-character exchanges – in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Le Monde, Le Temps, PRI, and many others – is understandable. A tweet from the daughter of such an authoritarian ruler is indeed out of the ordinary, and that alone makes it newsworthy. But this is hardly the only “unusual” thing about her.

She is, in fact, a bit of a “weird news” magnet. Karimova is a diplomat who makes music videos, including a recent one with Russia’s newest citizen, Gérard Depardieu, and she even has her own perfume brand. She also has a line of jewelry, and she pops up at fashion shows to market and sell dresses she designs.

In fact, she seems to spend so much time promoting herself and her products that it is a wonder she has time to fulfill her official role as Uzbekistan’s permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva.

The Swiss city is home to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the U.N.’s Human Rights Council, two institutions that Uzbekistan tends to avoid. In particular, the Uzbek government has studiously ignored requests to visit by the Council’s “Special Procedures” mechanisms – independent experts who address thematic human rights issues around the world.

Uzbekistan is something of a repeat offender in this regard, having denied access to 11 special procedures in the last 11 years. This means they have refused to allow visits by the U.N.’s special rapporteurs on torture, on the situation of human rights defenders, on freedom of religion, on violence against women, on the independence of judges and lawyers, on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, on contemporary forms of slavery, on freedom of association and assembly and on cultural rights, as well as the working groups on arbitrary detention, and on enforced disappearances.

Given that Uzbekistan has little to be proud of in all these areas, it is perhaps not surprising that they prefer no such visitors and that Karimova spends her time cutting albums under her alter ego “Googoosha,” dancing with Depardieu, and promoting her perfume rather than cooperating with the U.N. human rights bodies in Geneva.

But no amount of perfume can hide the smell of Uzbekistan’s record, which for decades has been one of the most brutal in the world.

Human Rights Watch has been documenting this abusive record for years. It includes: the complete lack of political freedom and the imprisonment of civil society activists; systematic use of torture in police custody and in prisons; forced adult and child labor in the cotton fields; lack of accountability for the 2005 Andijan massacre, in which the government opened fire on mainly unarmed demonstrators, killing hundreds, and the show trials and persecution that followed; severe restrictions on freedom of expression; the denial of access for numerous international organizations and media outlets; and, of course, Uzbekistan’s continued failure to cooperate with the United Nations system of Special Procedures or any of the U.N.’s other monitoring bodies.

This is undoubtedly a long list, but the full accounting of this government’s crimes against its own people is far longer.

During her public Twitter conversation with one of us (Andrew), Karimova asked for details of these issues and promised to respond to them. We described some of the key horrors in a long open letter to her a month ago. The ambassador has so far not fulfilled her pledge to respond to these concerns, ignoring it as if it were a U.N. request.

Of course, regardless of the flash of an unusual media story, no one is fooled by a few tweets any more than they are by a new music video or a new clothing line unveiled at fashion shows.

We should not be distracted by Karimova’s jet-setting at all. The government she represents has a duty to end human rights abuses now, and she is in an official position that should be addressing these issues.

So, tweet that, Ambassador Karimova.

CNN

Photo: World Economic Forum/Flickr

22 Mar
The Nigerian military’s Joint Task Force has killed nine suspected members of the Boko Haram Islamist militant group in the northern Nigerian town of Tudun Wada, about 60 miles from the city of Kano. The suspected militants were killed shortly after they had reportedly used explosive devices in an attempt to destroy Divisional Police headquarters.
The suspected sect members also appear to have used explosives to destroy a nearby bank, but police officials say that the militants failed to take away the money inside. All the bank’s money appears to have remained intact.
Wednesday’s attack follows a shooting attack on Tuesday in the Sharada section of Kano, where gunmen on a motorcycle shot into a crowd, killing at least three people. Boko Haram is blamed for the deaths of more than 1,000 people since its armed rebellion began in 2009. Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is a sin,” claims to be fighting to overthrow the secular government of Nigeria, seeking instead a nationwide application of traditional Islamic sharia law. Yet some analysts believe that the rebellion is primarily aimed at a corrupt Muslim elite of politicians who use their power for their own enrichment, rather than for the improvement of the relatively impoverished areas of the north.
…
"There have been preliminary talks between a Boko Haram-appointed intermediary." But given the fractious nature of the Boko Haram militancy, Andrew Stroehlein of the International Crisis Group told Al Jazeera that it’s not entirely certain whether the Nigerian government is talking to Boko Haram as a whole, or just members of a breakaway faction.
FULL ARTICLE (Christian Science Monitor)
Photo: Raoulduke47/Wikimedia Commons

The Nigerian military’s Joint Task Force has killed nine suspected members of the Boko Haram Islamist militant group in the northern Nigerian town of Tudun Wada, about 60 miles from the city of Kano. The suspected militants were killed shortly after they had reportedly used explosive devices in an attempt to destroy Divisional Police headquarters.

The suspected sect members also appear to have used explosives to destroy a nearby bank, but police officials say that the militants failed to take away the money inside. All the bank’s money appears to have remained intact.

Wednesday’s attack follows a shooting attack on Tuesday in the Sharada section of Kano, where gunmen on a motorcycle shot into a crowd, killing at least three people. Boko Haram is blamed for the deaths of more than 1,000 people since its armed rebellion began in 2009. Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is a sin,” claims to be fighting to overthrow the secular government of Nigeria, seeking instead a nationwide application of traditional Islamic sharia law. Yet some analysts believe that the rebellion is primarily aimed at a corrupt Muslim elite of politicians who use their power for their own enrichment, rather than for the improvement of the relatively impoverished areas of the north.

"There have been preliminary talks between a Boko Haram-appointed intermediary." But given the fractious nature of the Boko Haram militancy, Andrew Stroehlein of the International Crisis Group told Al Jazeera that it’s not entirely certain whether the Nigerian government is talking to Boko Haram as a whole, or just members of a breakaway faction.

FULL ARTICLE (Christian Science Monitor)

Photo: Raoulduke47/Wikimedia Commons

24 Jan

Photos from ICG Communications Director Andrew Stroehlein’s trip to Ambon, Indonesia, where he has been traveling this past week. 

FULL SET (Flickr)

18 Oct

Why Uzbekistan Matters

By Andrew Stroehlein

As Washington’s relations with Pakistan seem to hit a new low every week, the U.S. has been trying to compensate by improving ties with Uzbekistan to the north to shore up international efforts in Afghanistan. It is an understandable repositioning, but it is not one that will improve security prospects in the region.

Step by step, the U.S. has been increasing its reliance on Tashkent. Already the “Northern Distribution Network”, which relies in large part on overland links through Uzbekistan, delivers over 50% of NATO’s non-lethal supplies to Afghanistan, a number set to rise to 75% by he close of 2011.

At the end of last month, the Senate Appropriations Committee helped deepen commitments by approving an Administration-backed measure to remove seven years of human rights-related restrictions barring military aid to Uzbekistan. And to just keep things running smoothly, President Obama personally phoned President Islam Karimov last week to congratulate him on his country’s 20th anniversary of independence. 

Of course, no one is under any illusions about what kind of regime is fast becoming central to the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. The State Department’s most recent Human Rights Report on Uzbekistan in April made it clear enough. It described the country as an “authoritarian state”, where torture is “routine”, freedom of speech and association are non-existent, independent political activity is impossible, and state-imposed “forced child labor in the cotton sector was widespread”.

The odious character of Karimov’s regime is clear, but, the reasoning goes, sometimes you have to hold your nose and deal with nasty dictatorships to achieve foreign policy objectives. NATO needs a supply route, and the fact that Uzbekistan literally boils its critics alive does not change geography.

Unfortunately, holding your nose in this case also seems to mean shutting your eyes - not just to the extreme abuses of the Uzbek regime but to what the security implications will be for U.S. policy in Afghanistan and the wider region.

It is as if the U.S. has not learned one of the central lessons from its own history of international affairs: relying on dictatorships for regional policy objectives is short-term thinking as best, and at worst makes you long-term enemies.

Look at the Iranian revolution, after which popular hatred for the U.S.-backed Shah turned into lasting anti-Americanism that was so strong it became one of the pillars of the Iranian regime’s legitimacy for two generations to follow. See how fervent and blinkered U.S. support for Pakistan’s military dictator Pervez Musharraf for so many years helped dig the hole the U.S. finds itself in there now, with an army and intelligence partner not just unreliable but openly hostile, and the country itself on the brink. Or look at the Arab Spring today, where U.S. support for people’s former oppressors complicates Washington’s hopes of winning new friends among the emerging political elites.

The short-term thinking of this move to put so many more Afghan eggs into a rotten Uzbek basket is a policy of desperation, driven by frustration at the apparent lack of options for a single need: a supply route. But even in this one objective it is doomed to failure.

The land route actually boils down to a single border crossing at Heiraton, Afghanistan, and is thus extremely vulnerable to militants. One day, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, one of the larger jihadist movements fighting in Afghanistan, may decide to do something about this bottleneck. If that happens, there are few, if any, alternative crossings.

For this weak, and probably temporary, supply point, Washington is willing to close its eyes to the oppression and corruption of the Karimov regime, which, when it ends, will surely do so very violently precisely because of its very nature. Not only is there no post-Karimov succession plan in place for an old, and by all accounts unwell, ruler, there is a fundamental axiom at work: the more brutal the dictatorship, the more likely its end will be associated with mass violence.

Embracing one of the world’s most brutal dictatorships is no way to bring security to Afghanistan. If, after ten years of demonstrably failing to stabilise the country, the U.S. and NATO wanted to start moving that country in a positive direction, they would have to instead radically change their entire approach to the Afghan government. They would have to focus all efforts on getting it to be responsible and responsive to its own people and on engaging the Afghan public in the peace process. Only such moves have a chance of drying up the source waters of the Afghan insurgency, not hoping you can cut a quick deal with an enemy that sends suicide bombers for peace negotiators.

That is long road to go down, to be sure, but it would ultimately prove to be a more reliable road than one that leads through a dangerously abusive neighbouring country always just one heartbeat away from violent collapse.

CNN GPS

Photo: Agência Brasil/Wikimedia Commons

(Source: )

21 Sep
"'There is the same leader, the same oppressive system, the same kind of corruption, the same massive human rights abuses,' said Andrew Stroehlein, communications director for the International Crisis Group in Brussels. 'There is no political engagement, no political discussion — I don’t know what to celebrate.'"

—The Washington Times, “Uzbeks note independence, continuing misery under Karimov