In Turkmenistan, it is half-way through the cotton harvesting season. Despite the crop failure and empty cotton fields, local government officials hold daily meetings with chiefs of institutions and demand more people in the fields and more cotton to meet the state plan
To coincide with the Turkmen president’s attendance at the UN General Assembly – the first time since 2015 – apparel companies and global investors have expressed disapproval regarding the nation’s use of statesponsored forced labour in Turkmenistan’s cotton sector.
As a method to remedy this, twelve apparel brands and retailers from around the world have signed the Responsible Sourcing Network (RSN) Turkmen Cotton Pledge, committing not to source cotton from Turkmenistan until forced labour has been eliminated.
Dozens of people have been injured in a bus accident and have been taken to the hospital, eyewitnesses reported to ATN. The crash occurred on August 31st in the eastern city of Turkmenabat. The roughly 40 people on board were kindergarten and secondary school staff, traveling to Farap district, 30 km outside of Turkmenabat, to pick cotton. Due to lack of seats some people had to stand.
Anti-Slavery International is urging all brands to pledge not to knowingly source cotton from Turkmenistan due to systematic forced and child labour in the sector, writes Klara Skrivankova, UK and Europe Programme Manager
The U.S. State Department announced today that the government of Turkmenistan remains in the lowest possible ranking, Tier 3, in the annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report. Countries that would fall into the worst category (Tier 3), are not committed to meeting the minimum standards for the elimination of severe forms of trafficking in persons.
Turkmenistan may represent only 2% of the world’s cotton exports, but the rampant human rights violations in their cotton production demand our attention. Much of the country’s cotton is produced using a system of state-sponsored forced labor. This isn’t widely known, but Turkmenistan can’t fly under the radar and deliver goods produced with numerous human rights violations.
The Cotton Campaign welcomes the decision of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a law enforcement agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, to issue a Withhold Release Order (WRO), formally banning the importation of “all Turkmenistan cotton or products produced in whole or in part with Turkmenistan cotton.”
Despite Turkmenistan’s international commitments to suppress the use of forced or compulsory labor in all its forms, in 2017 the government continued to mobilize tens of thousands of civil servants to pick cotton under threat of dismissal. For the first time in a decade, the authorities have also mobilized masses of children to pick cotton
Turkmenistan remains one of the world’s most closed and oppressively governed countries. President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov and his associates control all aspects of public life. Elections extended Berdymukhamedov’s presidential term for another seven years.
In Turkmenistan, despite a ban on child labor, there are more children and teenagers in the cotton fields for this year’s cotton harvest campaign than in previous years. In addition, for the first time for many years the authorities in several regions of Turkmenistan have orchestrated the mass mobilization of children to pick cotton.