Victim of the 2017 cotton harvest

A 60-year old resident of the village of Sharkobod in the Sokh district of the Ferghana region, Davron Davronbekov, who was sent to pick cotton in the Rishtan district, disappeared on October 11 during harvesting. Five days later, his body was found in a ditch near a cotton field. According to witnesses, the farmer fell into a ditch for unknown reasons and drowned. On October 17, his body was sent home.

According to one of the cotton pickers who asked Ozodlik not to disclose his name, noticing the disappearance of Davronbekov, many cotton pickers thought that the elderly man returned home:

“On October 10, we all arrived on one bus from Sokh to Rishtan district to harvest cotton. The next day, during roll call, conducted by the chief of cotton headquarters , Davron-aka was not among us. We joked that had run away home. After that, none of us paid attention to his disappearance, we went on to pick cotton. But on October 16, Davronbekov’s body was found in a ditch near the field. The ditch was very deep like a big canal, a person could quietly drown in it,” a cotton picker told our radio.

According to him, none of the residents of the Sokh district came to to pick cotton in Rishtan district of their own will:

“For more than a month in the Rishtan district around 250 people from Sokh pick cotton allegedly “voluntarily.” In fact, all these people were sent to the cotton forcibly. Among them there are heads and workers of horticultural farms, technical workers of schools and kindergartens of Rishtan district. Every 10-15 days a new group of cotton pickers comes to Rishtan District and replaces the previous ones,” the source said.

One of the residents of the Sokh district in a conversation with the Ozodlik reporter said that Davron Davronbekov , the man who drowned in a ditch, was a good gardener:

“He had a garden of several hectares. He had two sons, two daughters and several grandchildren. The deceased was a very good and cheerful person,” one of his acquaintances recalled about Davron Davronbekov.

An unidentified employee of the hokimiat (administration) of the Rishtan district confirmed to our radio the information about the death of the farmer Davron Davronbekov:

“Yes this is true. Davronbekov came to pick cotton in the Rishtan district at his own request. No one saw how he fell into a ditch. The examination is over, his body was sent home to the Sokh district. The district prosecutor’s office is investigating this case,” said an official from the Rishtan administration.

The ninth victim of the 2017 cotton harvest

Davron Davronbekov, a resident of the Sokh district of the Fergana region, is the ninth victim of 2017 harvest in Uzbekistan.

From the beginning of the harvestr, radio Ozodlik began to receive reports from various regions of the republic about the deaths of people forcibly sent to the harvest.

On October 11, a 4th grade schoolboy in the Takhiatash district of Karakalpakstan died under a concrete wall. According to eyewitnesses, the tragedy occurred when the child’s mother child, went to pick cotton, leaving the child alone. According to eyewitnesses, his mother was picking cotton in place of the child’s school teacher.

The 57-year-old hokim of the Ulugnor district of Andijan region, Asilbek Yusupov, died on October 5. An the employee of the district administration told Ozodlik that Yusupov suffered a hemorrhagic stroke after the district leadership was insulted at a cotton meeting. Entering his office, the official began bleeding from the nose and mouth and fainted, said our source.

On September 20, a 28-year-old resident of the Karshi district of Kashkadarya region, Lobar Ashurova, died in a cotton field from internal bleeding. The  young woman was cotton picking in place of her mother, who works as a nurse in the regional tuberculosis hospital.

On September 19, a 2-year-old boy, Abdulla, died in kindergarten # 43 in the Uzbek district of the Fergana region. A cauldron with hot food capsized on the child. Gulnara Rahmonova, Abdulla’s mother, a cook at the kindergarten, was away picking cotton in her her mother-in-law’s place.

On September 18, a 52-year-old pediatrician of a medical association in Samarkand, Fakhriddin Saidov, died of a heart attack. He was the head of the local trade union federation and, at the same time, responsible for sending doctors to pick cotton. According to Ozodlik’s sources, Saidov became ill with heart [AG6] after insults he heard during the cotton meeting.

On September 16, a 58-year-old resident of Andijan, Muzaffar Umrzakov, died in the cotton fields. He was picking cotton instead of his wife, who works as a cleaner at a school. According to eyewitnesses, the elderly man died of a heart attack when he was carrying the cotton he had picked to the trailer.

On the same day it became known that 39-year-old Gulzada Tadjibaeva, who worked as an organizer of the Union of Youth of Uzbekistan at school No. 32 in Sharaf-Rashidov district of Djizak region died. She fell under the wheels of a bus when she was returning from the cotton field.

The Uzbek edition of the BBC reported the death of 58-year-old prisoner Najmiddin Sarymsakov, sent along with a group of prisoners to pick cotton in the Zafarabad district of the Jizzakh region. The man died on October 8, when he was going to the field early in the morning. His relatives were informed that the man died of a brain hemorrhage. According to a relative of the elderly prisoner, two years ago Najmiddin Sarymsakov suffered a heart attack, after which the doctors categorically forbade him to lift anything heavy.

On September 19 this year, speaking at the UN General Assembly, Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyayev said that forced labor in the country was over. Three days after this statement the heads of state, students, doctors and teachers were massively returned from cotton fields. However, according the reports of independent monitors, the authorities are still continuing to involve employees of public organizations in compulsory harvesting of cotton.

October 18, 2017