© Simon Buxton / Anti-Slavery

Students from Ferghana are forced to walk for 2 hours every day to reach a cotton field

Students of the Tashkent Medical Academy’s branch in Ferghana are forced to walk 2 hours every day to reach a cotton field. They are currently picking cotton in the fields of Tojik village in the Quva district (Ferghana region).

Officials denied this information, saying that students were transported by cars. Students of the Medical Academy are accommodated in the Industrial College of Soyguzar village in the Quva district. Students complained that they were forced to walk several kilometres before getting to the cotton field which is located in the neighbouring village.

“The students are forced to walk for two hours to get to the cotton field and pick cotton the whole day. After work, they must walk back to the accommodation for another two hours. And this is not the only case. All university students are forced to do work under such conditions”.

Students were sending photos to Radio Ozodlik while walking from the accommodation to the cotton field.

Ozodlik had a chance to talk to a Quva district resident. According to the resident, the students of the Medical Academy are part of 67th Cotton Unit. They pick cotton on the cotton fields of such farming firms as Nilufar, Bibisora, and Shabbona.

The resident of the Quva district tried to explain the ongoing situation:

“There is the Industrial College in Soyguzar village. And the temporary accommodation for the students of the Medical Academy (shelters for the period of cotton harvest) is located in there. Students pick cotton in the adjacent Tojik village even though their accommodation is located in Soyguzar. The cotton fields of the Nilufar, Bibisora and Shabbona farming firms are 4 km away from the students’ accommodation. Poor students… I saw them a few times in the evenings when they were returning back to their accommodation from the cotton field. They pick cotton all day long, and then have to walk such a long way back to their accommodation. I normally cycle to get to the cotton field. And still, I get tired every time.”

90 students of the Medical Academy pick cotton in the cotton fields of the farming firms of  Nilufar, Bibisora and Shabbona. 300 students are accommodated in the building of Industrial College.

Also students from the Ferghana branch of the Tashkent University of Information Technologies are picking cotton in the cotton fields of Tojik village.

According to Ozodlik, about 200 students from this university are accommodated in the building of school No. 22 in Tojik village. They pick cotton in the most remote part of the village – the cotton field of the Rustambek farming firm.

According to calculations of the resident from the Quva district who was interviewed by Ozodlik, the distance between school No. 22 and the Rustambek cotton field is about 4 km. And, as said, the students of the Ferghana branch of the Tashkent University of Information Technologies are forced to cover this distance by foot.

One of the officials from the Quva district denied that there was any problem with the transportation of students. He further said that it had been already resolved.

According to him, local drivers of “Damas” SUVs are involved in the transportation of the volunteering students and all costs are paid by farming firms.

One of the teachers of the Ferghana branch of the Tashkent Medical  pointed at another problem to this regard:

“It is true. We do have a problem related to the transportation of students. The district administration intervened into this and now they are trying to use cars to transport students. However, they put up to 15 students into each car, which in fact violates any security standards”.


Source: Radio Ozodlik

September 23rd, 2016