Help a repressive regime, courtesy of 'The Guardian'
By Oliver Duff | September 5, 2006
Uzbekistan suffers one of the world's most brutal regimes. President Islam Karimov's, right, government has sanctioned the boiling of dissidents, shooting of peaceful protesters, police rapes, forced labour and torture.
Not the obvious place for a package holiday, then. Nevertheless, on Saturday, The Guardian ran a "reader offer" in conjunction with the reputable travel agency Cox & Kings promoting the chance to visit the "Heart of Central Asia".
Those stumping up £975 for a 10-day trip fill the coffers of the government airline Uzbekistan Airways.
Britain's former ambassador to the country, Craig Murray, was hounded out by the Foreign Office and the CIA after daring to criticise human rights abuses.
"I'm not against people going," he said. "It is a beautiful country with mystical historic sites to visit. But being herded on coach tours and supporting the state economy is at best naïve."
A spokeswoman for the opposition politician Mohammed Salih, says: "The government monitors foreigners and restricts their movement. Everyone is watched and listened to."
Cox & Kings did not wish to comment on "the human rights side of it." A spokesman added: "There are many countries where companies offer tours, such as Cuba and China, with human rights allegations against them. It is a difficult conversation to get into."
Uzbekistan's hottest travel guide is Murray's Murder in Samarkand, which details the finer points of killing, torture and suppression. Happy bedtime reading!