Monday, January 21, 2008

"Murder In Samarkand"

This is not exactly a ‘hot off the blogosphere’ posting as the book I have just completed reading was published several years ago. However, the lessons to be learned are as horrifying and as relevant now as they were in 2006. Just as Mr Murray states in his book many of us believed that being British came with certain values, fairness, justice, protecting the vulnerable and standing up to the bullies for instance. In the past we didn't always managed to live up to these ideals but we tried. Now it seems that these things no longer matter at all, at least to our government, as it supports despots, accepts torture as an acceptable method of obtaining ‘intelligence’ [it made an attempt to get this idea on to the statute book only a few years ago, the only thing which stopped it was a group of pesky Law Lords], repeatedly suppresses the truth and uses fabricated evidence to justify actions or achieve other ends. Does this sound like something good that you would want to tell your international friends about? If you want some insight into the way our government [and I cannot stress ‘OUR’ enough] is going and why, then reading this book ‘Murder in Samarkand’ is a must.

While not everyone would approve of Craig Murray's personal behaviour it is hard to see how anyone who believes in the truth can ignore the story as it demonstrates how spin, convenience, expediency and the lack of truth have permeated our government.

In the early days of his posting his first concerns were to raise the profile of the British Embassy in Uzbekistan and make it better known amongst the British businesses which were attempting to operate there and achieved considerable success in this area. However, it was not long before he began to come across signs of corruption within the country and his attention was absorbed by other matters. This was bad enough but the most disturbing facet of this episode was the cold silence of the Foreign Office to his reports. In time the silence became more active and attempted to shut him up. The British government were following that of USA who were propping up the dictatorship in Uzbekistan as a partner in their War on Terror; it was therefore up to the Ambassador to keep relations sweet and avoid anything less pleasant. Truth simply didn't matter. This conspiracy to silence existed all the way to the very highest levels of the Foreign Office, allegedly including the Secretary of State himself. During Mr Murray's time in Uzbekistan the American government was running its Extraordinary Renditions programme, shipping arrested people to secret places around the world, one of which was Uzbekistan and, it is alleged, our government had an active part of this process. This is a story of cynicism, cruelty, terror, torture and murder and involves the author in several close and unnerving encounters of his own. If this were a thriller it would certainly sell well, but this is not fiction. If you want to see just how much politicians are prepared to debase themselves and the values of their country, read this.

Craig Murray is now the Rector of Dundee University.

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