Cotton picker Cotton picker © UGF 2017

Teachers of Andijan Medical Institute Forced to Hire Cotton Pickers

Teachers of the Andijan State Medical Institute have written a letter to Radio Ozodlik, stating that the rector of this university is forcing them to hire mardikors (workers) to harvest cotton. Teachers who refuse to pay to hire mardikors are threatened with dismissal. The leadership of the medical institute refused to comment on this information.

The letter, sent to the editors of Radio Ozodlik by a group of teachers from the Andijan State Medical Institute, reads:

“On October 11, the leadership of our institute ordered professors and teachers to send mardikors to pick cotton. We were told that teachers of the university, who did not follow this order, would be dismissed from their jobs. Now, for one day of work in the field, the mardikor is paid 60,000 soums in cash (approximately 7.30 US dollars). For ten days work in a cotton field, he needs to pay 600,000 soums ($ 73).  However, every ten days we are forced to hand over 50,000 soums [LS2] for cotton. The head of the department told us: “A teacher who has not brought a mardikor with him by 8 o’clock in the morning, must write a letter of resignation or go to the rector.”

Radio Ozodlik contacted one of the signatories of the letter by phone. The teacher of the Andijan Medical Institute said that not only the teachers but also the heads of this institution are being forced to collect cotton:

“Today once again we were ordered to hand over 50,000 soums (6 US dollars). We hired mardikors to harvest cotton in the Marhamat district of the Andijan region. We raised money to hire six mardikors. Each department is supposed to hire at least two mardikors. And still we have to go out to pick cotton for one day. Yesterday we gathered cotton in the Altynkul district. Today the teachers were taken to Butakar. If the teacher does not go to the cotton harvest, then he must give the dean 20,000 soums (2,8 US dollars) for one day. At the moment, the cotton fields are being monitored by the International Labor Organization (ILO). The university administration ordered us: “If the ILO members ask you the reason for the absence of one of the teachers, tell them that he is sick. Now half of our teachers are picking cotton.”, our reporter was told.

The teacher also sent a screenshot of correspondence where the deputy dean of the university asks teachers to find people to pick cotton.

“Tomorrow, October 16, all the departments are to provide two people to collect cotton. They must gather at 7 o’clock in the morning near the main building of the university to go to the fields by bus. Lessons will be conducted by staff of the department. This process will continue until Saturday “, wrote the deputy dean to the teachers of the Andijan State Medical Institute.

However, the head of the teaching and pedagogical department of the institute, Barno Inakova, denied this information:

“We definitely did not go out to pick cotton. Lessons are being conducted at 100%. Representatives of the International Labor Organization visited our university and saw with their own eyes that all our teachers are at work. None of the teachers hired cotton pickers. You were given incorrect information. It is possible that one of the teachers collected cotton on Sundays of his own will. I am a patriot of my country. In any case, cotton is our wealth, the wealth of our state. We do it of our own accord, for the love of our homeland.”, said a representative of the Andijan State Medical Institute.