Mobilization to the cotton fields in Andijan © UGF 2016

College Students Still Looking for Cotton

All third-year college students from the Buz district of the Andijan region have been picking cotton for over a month. According to a student who spoke to Ozodlik, they are forced to search and pick cotton despite the fact that there is no more cotton left as most of it has already been harvested.

One of the students of the Buz Construction College informed Ozodlik that students had been picking cotton for over a month. Furthermore, students have not had any classes for a month as they were cancelled due to the cotton harvest:

“Our district has not fulfilled the planned quota yet. Therefore, all 3rd year college students from the Buz district are forced to miss their classes and pick cotton instead. We are forced to walk at least one hour every morning to reach the cotton field. However, there is no much cotton left, if any. Basically, we are picking leftovers and cotton that has ripened late”.

A student from the Medical University of the Buz district informed Ozodlik that students are fined for failing to fulfil the daily quota:

“We are ordered to pick at least 15 kg of cotton per day. But, how can we make this much if there is no cotton left? We barely make 2-3 kg. We pay for the rest though. There is a fine of 300 Soum for each missing kilogram. It is cold here and the food is bad. Our farmer gives us just pasta for lunch. To tell you the truth, the farmer does not look happy with the fact that we are here to help him out. He told to us that he spent more money for providing us with lunch that he obtained for the amount of cotton we pick.”

One of the teachers from the Buz Construction College has confirmed that teachers and third-year college students were mobilized to pick cotton.

“When the Khokim orders us to send our students to pick cotton, we do follow his orders. We have no choice. All third-year students are sent to pick cotton. Only first- and second-year students are having classes these days. Also, half of our teaching personnel are mobilized to pick cotton. Furthermore, there will be a large-scale cleaning campaign tomorrow. All teachers as well as first- and second-year students must participate in it.”

An official who introduced himself to Ozodlik as the assistant of the Buz district Khokim denied any allegations of college students being forced to pick cotton. However, he confirmed that teachers were mobilized to pick cotton.

“College students were not mobilized to pick cotton. Teachers are picking cotton though. Employees from all public institutions in our district were sent to pick cotton”.

October 29, 2016