On October 18, at a meeting of the administration of the Shahrisabz district of the Kashkadarya region dedicated to the cotton campaign, a group of farmers was criticized for selling cucumbers at the local market instead of participating in the national plan to collect cotton. After the meeting, several farmers were sent to the district police station. It is reported that female farmers spent the night behind bars.
The government of Uzbekistan forced people to work in the cotton fields during the spring fieldwork season under threat, the Uzbek-German Forum states in a report released today. The report also documents forced and child labor in a World Bank project area in Karakalpakstan.
On September 27, 2017, activist Malokhat Eshonkulova visited cotton fields in the Dustlik district of the Djizak region where she spoke to cotton pickers. She learned that 1,100 collectors, mostly hired by employees of various tax offices of Tashkent city, as well as the city enterprise TransYol, had arrived in the Dustlik district. One of the workers said that she came to work for an employee of the tax inspection office of the Mirzo-Ulugbek district of Tashkent who had paid her 600,000 soums ($75) to pick cotton for one month.
The regional administration rejected accusations of the use of forced labor and stated that employees of state organizations, as well as employees of special services, have been collecting cotton on a voluntary basis.
A report received by the editorial office of Kun.uz says that the head of Qorgontepa District administration in Andijan Region, Avazbek Ergashev, is demanding that teachers of secondary schools recruit workers to pick cotton. Reports say that the head of the district administration is demanding that every teacher should bring one of the relatives of their pupils to pick cotton and is exerting pressure on teachers who fail to find fewer than five people to work on the cotton fields.
A 57-year-old khokim of the Ulugnor district of the Andijan region of Uzbekistan, Asilbek Yusupov, died on October 6. According to several independent sources of the Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights (UGF) in the Andijan region, the hokim suffered verbal abuse during a meeting on the collection of cotton. Immediately afterwards he was taken to hospital.
Preliminary monitoring by Uzbek-German Forum, which independently monitors forced labor in the cotton sector in Uzbekistan, shows that teachers and healthcare workers in some districts have been recalled from the fields, but workers in other districts have not.
Uzbek authorities should drop politically motivated charges that stem from the exercise of basic human rights and release all those imprisoned as a result of such charges, Human Rights Watch said. Mirziyoyev should also send an unambiguous message to all law enforcement that no one in Uzbekistan will be punished for the peaceful exercise of free speech.
One year after the death of Islam Karimov, the continued use of forced labour in Uzbekistan’s cotton fields shows how slow the pace of change really is.
A video shot in secret and posted online shows a district official in Uzbekistan beating and humiliating several principals of local schools. The district chief was reportedly punishing the principals for their failure to send teachers to an Independence Day celebration in late August. (Current Time TV)