Chopard and Guli blood diamonds

Caroline Gruosi-Scheufele and Gulnara Karimova – Uzbek human rights activist Abdujalil Boymatov has urged Chopard jewellery and watch company to reconsider its relations with Gulnara Karimova and plans to promote the Guli brand in order to avoid association with blood diamonds.

Boimatov said he sent a letter to the company in which he expressed his bewilderment about its cooperation with the Uzbek president’s daughter Gulnara Karimova.

Chopard is expected to promote Karimova’s Guli collection at an exhibition in Basel this week. website says after the exhibition the collection will be sold in Chopard’s 150 boutiques worldwide and money raised will be spent on children’s projects in Uzbekistan.

“I was very surprised by the decision of your company that has claimed fame with the quality and beauty of its products not scandalous ties with tyrants and their blood money,” Boymatov wrote to Chopard owners Caroline Gruosi-Scheufele and Karl-Friedrich Scheufele.

The activist thinks that the company knows little about Uzbekistan, its dictator President Islam Karimov and the origins of the Karimov family’s wealth.

He thinks the Guli jewellery is made of the blood and tears of the people of Uzbekistan.

“Islam Karimov came to power in Soviet times in 1989 as a leader of the Communist Party of Uzbekistan. Since then the people of Uzbekistan have not been able to get rid of him and his grown daughters, whose love for power and money has turned out to be greater than their father’s.

During the 20 years of Karimov’s rule, Uzbekistan has turned into a poor and lawless country. Widespread unemployment forces its population of 28 million people to go to work abroad, mainly in Russia and Kazakhstan where they are treated as slaves.

All the major sectors of the country’s economy – gas, gold, cotton and the production of other raw materials – are controlled by Islam Karimov’s family and entourage. The lion’s share of this wealth belongs to Gulnara Karimova.

Many entrepreneurs whose businesses have been seized say that Gulnara Karimova has been behind these seizures. Raiding, kidnapping, taking hostage and torturing are the methods, businessmen say, they faced before ceding their businesses to Gulnara Karimova.

The criticism of these actions is impossible in Uzbekistan: the country does not have opposition or free press. Police are working day and night to destroy those who can still express their discontent with authorities.

Human rights activists estimate that there are 12,000 political prisoners in Uzbekistan, including opposition leaders, journalists and human rights activists. They face torture and violence in prison and they die there before their releases.

People tried once to rise up against repression, poverty and abuses in Uzbekistan they are living with due to Islam Karimov and his family. However, the uprising in Andijan on 13 May 2005 was crushed violently. Armoured personnel carriers opened fire against protesters, and the government increased repression against the people after the Andijan massacre.

I was amused when I read that money raised from the sale of Guli jewelleries would be spent on charity and children’s projects in Uzbekistan. What an insult!

Do you know that millions of children in Uzbekistan cannot study because in autumn they should go not to schools but fields to pick cotton – 95% of Uzbek cotton is picked by children?” Boymatov wrote in his letter.

He concluded the letter with a request: “Dear Mrs Gruosi-Scheufele and Mr Scheufele, please think again before Chopard becomes a symbol of the amoral society of the rich and before Chopard products will start to be described as blood diamonds.”