Workers on the cotton fields in the Ferghana region © UGF 2017

Teachers in Fergana to be Sent to Karakalpakstan to Pick Cotton

“A campaign to send 40,000 volunteers from the Fergana Valley to Karakalpakstan has begun. The volunteers’ travel expenses will be paid and they will be provided with food. They will be paid 500,000 soms for 20 days of work. Where possible, mainly men will be sent. Our men from schools and colleges have also been sent,” said a schoolteacher in Rishton District, Bahodir Eliboev.

The governors of the regions have announced they are sending volunteers from the Fergana Valley to Karakalpakstan during a meeting. All schools, hospitals and other state funded organizations have received an order to hire people to pick cotton.

“There are 61 people at our school. We have been told that we should send 60 people. We objected, saying that lessons will be missed and we managed to get it reduced to ten. This is why four or five people such as school guards, caretakers or youth leaders will go to Karakalpakstan. To make up the numbers, the teachers will collect 40,000 soms ($50) each and hire people to pick cotton,” said a schoolteacher in Fergana.

The uzbek website also published an article on forced labor in the cotton fields. The article cites complaints they received from the staff of state-funded organizations from different regions of Uzbekistan and a letter from a schoolteacher in the Beshariq District of the Fergana Region:

“The director and deputy director of our school came to my house and told me that I was among those who would be sent to remote Karakalpakstan tomorrow and that there were a total of 20 people – I think 20 people from each school – and that we should assemble near the building of the district administration at nine o’clock in the morning. After that, I sat and began thinking. Quite recently the Senate adopted a “grand” resolution. For whom was this resolution adopted? And after two days I’m confronted with forced labour, something which I have never seen. This has never happened before – it’s like a military call-up.”

Originial source:

October 8, 2017