Mobilization of students in Jizzakh 2016. © UGF

Students of the Graphic Arts Department at the Ferghana State University mobilized to harvest cotton

Students of the Graphic Arts Department at the Ferghana State University were also mobilized to harvest cotton. They refused to give interviews on tape though. In a personal conversation, they spoke about their mobilization to cotton fields in the Qushtepa district, and about the uncertainty concerning the length of their stay.

“My parents both have nice jobs. However, they did not agree to keep me away from cotton picking when I asked them for it. ‘You should go on a par with others’ they said. Some of my group mates sent someone else on their behalf to the cotton harvest. They paid 100 USD each to hire workers for the whole period”, said a third-year student.

The following message was sent by a second-year student of the Russian Language Department at the Ferghana State University:

“My father holds a Russian citizenship, we, including my mother, hold an Uzbek one. I grew up in Russia, thus I do not really know how to pick cotton. I found a hired worker to go to the cotton harvest on my behalf. I paid him 100 USD. Also, he keeps the money for himself that he earns for the picked cotton. As for me, I will be staying at home during a whole cotton picking term. I did not call the Trade Union as it wouldn’t bring any positive results.”

The following message was sent by a teacher working at School No.6 in the Buvayda district:

“There are only 6 senior teachers left in our school at the moment. Normally, there are more than 700 teachers in total. The rest is mobilized for the cotton harvest. I have not seen any posters or slogans of the Trade Union prohibiting the use of forced labour. Even if I saw any of those, I would never report cases of forced labour. Simply because they would find a reason to fire me if I reported. Also, it is impossible to refuse to participate in the cotton harvest as the school administration would force you to resign if you did. People are grouped into units in every district. Drivers of “Damas” Vans are given the order to transfer cotton pickers to the cotton fields for free. Some nice farmers may provide lunch sometimes. But there are not so nice ones, too. ‘I have never requested any volunteers’, they say. They wouldn’t even give us water.”