A monitor from Uzbek-German Forum interviewed a farmer from the Khorezm region who described his experience with the command system of management in the Uzbekistan’s agriculture sector. Farmers do not have the freedom to choose what crops to grow; the state sets the prices and can arbitrarily and punitively “redistribute” the land of the farm at any time, despite an existing lease, leaving farmers in a particularly vulnerable situation.
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.
A first-ever delegation representing the Cotton Campaign presented recommendations on how to end systematic forced labor in the cotton sector to senior Uzbek government officials on its visit to Tashkent from May 10-16, 2018. The delegation also consulted independently with civil society activists, farmers and representatives of international agencies and ambassadors of other interested governments at this hopeful time for reform in Uzbekistan.
The 96-page report, “‘We Pick Cotton Out of Fear’: Systematic Forced Labor and the Accountability Gap in Uzbekistan,” details how the government forced education and medical workers, other public sector employees, private sector workers, people receiving benefits, and some college and university students to pick cotton involuntarily.
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.”
24 April 2018 the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination held an informal meeting with civil society representatives from Kyrgyzstan, Peru and Saudi Arabia, whose reports will be considered by the Committee this week.
The Arthur Svensson International Prize for Trade Union Rights this 2018 is awarded to the Independent Trade Unions of Kazakhstan, represented by Larisa Kharkova, Nurbek Kushakbaev and Amin Eleusinov. Trade Union leaders and activists of Kazakhstan face severe repression in due to their involvement with trade unions rights, and the rights of the working people in their country.