The US media rarely mentions Uzbekistan, but human rights there are in a deplorable state. Just ask Sanjar Umarov, who was jailed and tortured for years for speaking out against the massacre of mostly peaceful protesters in 2005. "I was drugged, beaten, falsely accused of directing the uprising," Umarov recounts in the LA Times. During one particularly cold January, he was thrown in an unheated open-air "monkey cage" for five days, surviving only by huddling with other prisoners.
But the US isn't working to improve human rights in Uzbekistan. Instead, the Obama administration has convinced Congress to waive rules preventing the sale of military equipment to Islam Karimov's repressive regime. Why? Because the US needs access to Uzbek supply routes to withdraw from Afghanistan. Negotiators are trying to walk a fine line between appeasing Karimov and expressing human rights concerns, writes Umarov. "The thing about fine lines, though, is that they often don't exist."