Just read a distressing report at Craig Murray's blog about Sting taking a million quid to perform for the Uzbekistan elite. The same Uzbekistan rulers who torture and boil their opponents and who our former ambassador bravely blew the whistle on only to find himself excommunicated and traduced by the British government.
The glamourpuss sitting next to the millionaire musician (above) may look the picture of sophistication but, according to Murray, Gulnara Karimova apparently makes hundreds of millions each year from forced child labour. Not that you'd know this from her rather clean Wikipedia entry. Try the father's Wiki page.
In legitimising this vile regime as a place of culture and civilisation, has Sting given aid and comfort to enemies of humanity? He refused to play apartheid South Africa, so why does he feel it is OK to help gloss Uzbekistan?
Craig Murray posts extracts from a report by the Environmental Justice Foundation, in collaboration with Anti-Slavery International, laying out exactly what Uzbek child slavery means:
* Children as young as 10 years old can be dispatched to the cotton fields for two months each year, missing out on their education and jeopardizing their future prospects.
* Uzbekistan is the world’s 3rd largest cotton exporter and earns around US$1 billion annually from the sale of its cotton to clothing factories primarily in Asia, which in turn export garments to the west; and to cotton traders, many of which are based in Europe.
* Reports in November 2009 estimated one million children working in the last harvest. Cotton picking is arduous labour, with each child ascribed a daily cotton quota of several kilos that they must fulfil.
* Children may be compelled to stay in barrack-like accommodation during the harvest. Living conditions are often squalid. In those places where food is provided to children, it is inadequate, often lacking in basic nutrition and children can often only access water from irrigation pipes, which carries health risk
* Children can be left in poor physical condition following the harvest; illnesses including hepatitis, injuries and even deaths are all reported. The harvest begins in the late summer, when temperatures in the fields remain high and can continue until the onset of the Uzbek winter. Children are not provided with any protective clothing whilst they work.
* Children receive little or no reimbursement for their labour, perhaps a few US cents per kilo of cotton picked. However, payments are deducted to cover their travel to the fields and the food they are provided with during the cotton picking season, which can leave them in debt.
The full report can be downloaded from here.
Even Wal-Mart, Tesco, Asda and C&A ensure that there is no Uzbekistan cotton in their products. If only Sting was similarly fastidious. O Sting, where is thy depth?
The redoubtable Marina Hyde got there first.
UPDATE: James MacKeith Lecture 2010 - INSTITUTE OF PSYCHOANALYSIS
"Torture Old and New: Degrading Attempts to Legitimate New Forms of Torture" given by Justice Arthur Chaskalson.
Justice Chaskalson was part of Nelson Mandela's defence team and a leading figure of South Africa's Constitutional Court.He will explore the legitimisation of new forms of psychological torture, as well as the complicity of psychologists, doctors, lawyers and the security services in developing and implementing them. He will call for societies and governments to act to end torture in all its forms.
Date: Friday 21 May 2010, 7.00pm (refreshments 6.30pm)
Venue: The Institute of Psychoanalysis, 112a Shirland Road, off Elgin Avenue London, W9 2EQ (at junction with Elgin Avenue)
Nearest Tube: Maida Vale and Warwick Avenue
Tickets: £15 (concessions £12)
To book: Call 020 7563 5016. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.