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President Islam Karimov (1938-2016) of Uzbekistan - Why This Dictator is Similar to Adolf Hitler

Updated on September 16, 2018
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Ara is a Journalism graduate from California State University Northridge who is looking to always explore his writing opportunities.

Introduction to Islam Karimov the Autocratic Leader of Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan is a country that was once part of the USSR or the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. After the collapse of the USSR, Uzbekistan became an independent nation. And the man that would one day become President of this Asian country is Islam Karimov. Karimov had ruled Uzbekistan and he controlled all aspects of life including restrictions on freedom of the press, religion and he also did not allow for criticism of his policies. He had spent over two decades killing, torturing, using electric shock and in some cases boiling to death any political prisoners. The emphasis of this article is not going to be a full biography of the man but it will be to show why Karimov was a modern day version of Adolf Hitler. Karimov died of a stroke on September 2, 2016 after more than 25 years in power.

Karimov was born on January 30, 1938 in the city of Samarkand in Uzbekistan. At that time, Uzbekistan was part of the USSR. After receiving degrees in engineering and economics, he began work as an aircraft engineer in the 1960’s. After that, he started to work for the Uzbek state planning office as an economic planner. If there is any common theme that I have noticed about these dictators, they have had a rough childhood and upbringing. Karimov was no exception to this because he was raised in an orphanage run by the state.

Islam Karimov (1938-2016)

Source

Rise to power and punishment of his daughter Gulnara Karimova

Karimov rose to power becoming the head of the Uzbekistan Communist Party in 1989. And after the fall of the Soviet Union, he became the authoritarian strongman of Uzbekistan in 1991. However, the elections that produced his victories were widely seen as illegitimate by the Uzbek opposition and human rights groups. His two daughters including Gulnara Karimova his oldest, were thought to be in line to succeed him after his death. But in 2013, there were reports of money laundering and Karimova compared her father to Joseph Stalin. She was placed under house arrest for this.

Karimov had a sort of personality cult similar to Adolf Hitler

Karimov wouldn’t even keep his eldest daughter away from punishment. This is one way he was similar to Adolf Hitler. Anyone who opposed him would see the wrath of his personality cult. Hitler thought the people of the Aryan race were the purest people. Karimov brutally cracked down and suppressed any signs of what he thought was militant Islam. Hitler wanted world domination and to exterminate Jews. Karimov exterminated opponents on the basis of trying to confront international terrorism. Both of these men sought absolute power for different reasons but they were both thugs who showed how evil they really were.

Islam Karimov in 2009

Karimov becomes a US ally and then shows why he is an international thug

With the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, Karimov would become one of the people involved in the US War on Terrorism. He would allow the US to use his country’s military bases to launch airstrikes on Afghanistan. However, his opponents and critics argued that he was waging a battle against militant Islam in order to solidify his grip on power. North Korea is an example of a country that routinely does this. Karimov was also very famous for torturing his opponents in much the same way that Hitler did. Hitler used torture as well as poison gas to murder Jews, gypsies, and anybody he thought was inferior. Karimov tolerated no opposition and he cracked down on protests to show that he was the man in charge. During Karimov’s reign, the most famous crackdown came in the town of Andijan in 2005 where some 700 people were reported to have been killed by Uzbek troops. Karimov insisted that those people that were killed were members of an outlawed Al-Qaeda based group. But witnesses and human rights groups maintained that those people that were killed were those that were against the Uzbek regime. The famous organization Amnesty International talked to survivors after the 10th anniversary of the incident. One person revealed that he stayed on the ground being afraid to move. Uzbek soldiers would shoot anyone that moved their head. He was able to find shelter when it was night time. Even though Karimov did not kill as many people as Hitler did, the scary part about him was his brutal methods and the fact that he struck so much fear in the hearts of his people. Uzbekistan was actually not that different from North Korea. Both countries are examples of authoritarian police states.

Why the US still supported Karimov in spite of his human rights record

After this incident, the US under George W. Bush criticized Karimov for this brutal act. Karimov had a message for other countries when he said: “Do not interfere in our affairs under the pretext of furthering freedom and democracy. Do not tell us what to do, whom to befriend and how to orient ourselves,” (Calamur). Washington Post reporter Andew Roth stated: "In 27 years in power, Karimov has built a totalitarian state best known in the West for its brutality and isolation, for the torture of political prisoners and a yearly cotton harvest produced by forced labor," (Taharoor). And forced labor is something that is also practiced in North Korea. In spite of his horrific human rights violations, George W. Bush considered him an ally for one simple reason. Bush needed Karimov in his battle against the people he referred to as “those who attacked us.” The US regime isn’t concerned about freedom and democracy as the media tells us. But the US has always done what it thought was best to satisfy its own political interests. So if Karimov could help the US achieve its objectives, they would consider him an ally no matter how brutal he was.

Islam Karimov with Vladimir Putin in 2014

Former Uzbek dictator Islam Karimov meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) at Tashkent International Airport in 2014.
Former Uzbek dictator Islam Karimov meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) at Tashkent International Airport in 2014. | Source

Other ways that Karimov was similar to Hitler

  • He would track down people that he suspected of being opponents to his rule. Family members of those opponents would also be killed.
  • Uzbekistan was a police state similar to Nazi Germany. People had to be very careful what they said or did.
  • Even though Karimov did not start a world war like Hitler, his massacres of innocent civilians are an act of war against the country that he sought to protect.
  • Karimov routinely used torture, beatings, electric shock, and boiling as means to stifle any opposition.
References

Calamur, Krishnadev. The Atlantic. 2 September 2016. Website. 29 January 2017.

Taharoor, Ishaan. The Washington Post. 2 September 2016. Website. 29 January 2017.

Uzbekistan under Karimov: very corrupt

© 2017 Ara Vahanian

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