Nationwide protests rocked Kazakhstan earlier this year, starting with an anti-inflation demo in the western town of Zhanaozen on 2 January. The wave of action spread across the country, including in the country’s urban centres in the east and south – and their effects, for the elite and regular people, are still being felt today. Strikes at large private and national enterprises were key components of the grassroots initial protest in January, as workers demanded improved conditions and higher salaries. Ten years prior, another worker strike in Zhanaozen had culminated in security forces opening fire against protesters, leaving at least 16 dead.
European governments and the United States should take urgent measures to block cotton products made with forced labor in Turkmenistan from their markets and hold to account companies that profit from forced labor in Turkmenistan, the Cotton Campaign said. The Cotton Campaign, a global coalition against forced labor in cotton production in Central Asia, today released a new report exposing state-imposed forced labor, including child labor, during the 2021 cotton harvest in Turkmenistan, researched and written by two leading Turkmen human rights groups. The report also reveals trade flows through which forced labor Turkmen cotton enters global markets, including the U.S., despite an existing ban on cotton imports from Turkmenistan.
Astana. July 19. KazTAG - The government has apologized to well-known Kazakhstani journalists Seitkazy and Aset Matayev, who had been illegally convicted.
The modernization of agriculture in Uzbekistan, for which Uzbekistan has received millions of dollars in investment by multilateral development banks, including the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank, has been accompanied by massive confiscations of farmland across the country.
“July 16 marks the first anniversary of the arrest of Dr Hursanay Ismatullaeva from Turkmenistan. She is serving a nine-year prison term for criminal charges that were clearly in retaliation for her labour dispute becoming a topic for discussion at a European Parliament event.
In 2020, Indorama Agro disclosed the project’s final Environmental and Social Impact Assessment, Environmental and Social Management Plan and Livelihood Restoration Plan. These documents are intended to provide an overall picture of risks to the Bank and potentially affected communities and to serve as the basis for mitigating these risks accordingly. Bankwatch made a quality analysis of this documentation. The findings confirmed the lack of integrated impact assessment and focused risk mitigation, a participative and sustainability-led approach, and accountability. The analysis also flags non-compliance with the EBRD performance standards on impact assessment, workers’ health, biodiversity impact, land acquisition, stakeholder engagement and labour rights. The project is exclusively assessed in compliance with Uzbek regulations rather than the best available international practices (i.e. those of the WHO and ILO) and performance standards, which contradicts the EBRD’s requirements. Finally, the project documentation does not contain a comprehensive human rights risk assessment, including the risks from land acquisition and public participation, or from publicly raising concerns in an authoritarian setting.
In this guest column written exclusively for Apparel Insider, Lynn Schweisfurth of the Uzbek Forum for Human Rights argues that while the end of systematic forced labour in the cotton fields of Uzbekistan is an important landmark, significant human rights risks remain.
While the Uzbek Government celebrates the end of the boycott of Uzbek cotton following the eradication of systematic, state-imposed forced labour, farmers find themselves at the mercy of a system rigged against them.
“The Kyrgyz authorities say they protect freedom of expression, yet try to silence critical voices and clamp down on independent media through criminal investigations and bogus charges,” said Syinat Sultanalieva, Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The authorities should release Taalaibek Duishenbiev, and drop all unfounded charges against him and other media targets that violate the right to freedom of expression.”
Despite the reduction in the number of jobs in Russia and depreciation of the ruble, the Cabinet of Ministers of Kyrgyzstan does not expect a mass return of compatriots. They believe that even if they do return, it will not be for long, as it was the case during the lockdown. The Minister of Economy Daniyar Amangeldiev is sure that Kyrgyz nationals, who were laid off, will find other jobs. If not, the Cabinet will try to redirect them to other countries, as there are few vacancies in Kyrgyzstan.
Toktakunov was involved in the defense of one of the human rights activists who demonstrated the war on Ukraine outside the Russian Embassy in Bishkek on 17 March 2022. During the protest itself, he was video recorded in conversation with police officers outside the Russian Embassy where he made negative remarks about the country’s judges in general. On this basis, judge Ubaibullo Satinkulov sentenced Toktakunov to 5 days jail.