On May 13, 2005 government forces surrounded Babur Square in Andijan, Uzbekistan. Thousands of freedom protesters had gathered there for a massive rally and demanded that President Islam Karimov resign. But, the protesting did not last long. Within hours the military surrounded the square and opened fired on the protesters. Estimates of those killed range from between 187, the official count of the government, and 5,000 people. The bodies of many of those who died were allegedly hidden in mass graves following the massacre.
In October Sting traveled to Uzbekistan and accepted between £1m and £2m to perform for the glory of the brutal despotic regime.
The Guardian reported, via Newsalert:
The services of Sting – whose personal fortune is estimated well north of £150m – were engaged by Gulnara Karimova, the daughter and anointed heir of dictator Islam Karimov. To explore Islam Karimov’s human rights record in full would take too long: suffice to say he is condemned approximately every 10 minutes by organisations from the UN to Amnesty, accused of such delights as boiling his enemies, slaughtering his poverty-stricken people when they protest, and conscripting armies of children for slave labour. Oh, and the Aral Sea on which his country sits – once the world’s fourth biggest lake – has lost 80% of its volume, partly as a result of Karimov siphoning it off to intensively irrigate his remote desert cotton fields.
Whether he is a perfect fit for self-styled eco-warrior and humanitarian Sting is a matter for you to decide: what is beyond dispute is that in October, the former Police frontman agreed to travel to Tashkent and effectively headline Gulnara Karimova’s alleged arts festival.
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