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.
The authorities of Tajikistan continue to worsen conditions for the lawyer Buzurgmehr Yorov. His life is staying under threat. The conditions in the punitive confinement leave much to be desired. Relatives of Buzurgmehr are also under constant pressure through threatening and intimidation. They are forbidden to tell anybody anything on situation of Buzurgmehr.