The United States has come under fresh international pressure to close its military base in Uzbekistan and drop the country’s President as a strategic ally after Human Rights Watch released a damning report into the recent Andijan massacre.

The New-York based human rights organisation said its investigation into the events of 13 May left it in no doubt that the Uzbek government had systematically slaughtered hundreds of its own citizens in a “massacre” and then tried to cover up the atrocities. The evidence it had uncovered was so compelling and the Uzbek government’s duplicity, guilt and intransigence so obvious, it added, that Washington was morally obliged to shut its air base in the south of the country.

“Camp Stronghold Freedom”, or K2, an air base near the southern town of Khanabad, was originally set up to supply the US invasion of neighbouring Afghanistan, and continues to play a role in Washington’s “war against terror”. Human Rights Watch said Washington was in negotiations that would allow it to keep a base there permanently. It called upon the US to insist upon an independent international investigation, something the government of Islam Karimov has repeatedly rejected, and to sever military and financial ties in the event of continued refusal. ~The Independent

The report’s recommendations are very welcome, but they don’t go quite far enough. Governments funded in part by our taxpayers that use their militaries to brutally murder hundreds of people should not only lose all finanical and military connections, but should be cut off from diplomatic contacts with our government. What is more, the State Department should pursue the diplomatic isolation of Uzbekistan and seek an international resolution condemning the massacre. Anything less is a betrayal of Mr. Bush’s supposedly high ideals (no surprise there). Far more importantly, it would be a betrayal of basic human decency to continue to do business with Karimov after what he and his government have done.