Sign with a slogan (Cotton is mine, yours, ours) © UGF

“You dont have the right to refuse orders of the acting president!”

“You dont have the right to refuse orders of the acting president!”, said Laziz Fayziqulov, a member of the Jizzakh district Cotton Headquarters, to an entrepreneur who had refused to harvest cotton.

Radio Ozodlik received an audio file in which Laziz Fayziqulov was threatening a shop owner to suspend his shop unless he went to the cotton harvest.

Having showed his police ID, Laziz Fayziqulov stated that “even 70 years old women are picking cotton”. Laziz Fayziqulov further mentioned that the mobilization to the cotton harvest was “compulsory”.

A part of the conversation between Laziz Fayziqulov and the entrepreneur is presented here:

Member of cotton HQ: When will you be picking cotton?

Entrepreneur: Oh… I cannot participate in the cotton picking. Who would work in the shop then?

Member of cotton HQ: Oh… Shops will be suspended starting from tomorrow.

Entrepreneur: But I pay my taxes. Entrepreneurs don’t have anything to do with cotton, do they?

Member of cotton HQ: Why would you think that you have nothing to do with it?

Entrepreneur: For instance, who would pay my taxes when I am away, picking cotton?

Member of cotton HQ: You will be exempted from paying taxes during this time, too.

Entrepreneur: But entrepreneurs have absolutely nothing to do with the cotton production. Entrepreneurs and their businesses should not be interrupted, should they?

Member of cotton HQ: Pardon me, but cotton is a part of the state policy. What are you talking about? You opened your business just yesterday, while the cotton production has been here for 25 years. It is a part of our state policy since the independence. Cotton plays a strategic role.

Entrepreneur: But, there is a Labor Code.

Member of cotton HQ: How much tax money have you paid to the country for running your business? Cotton is feeding the whole state.

Entrepreneur: But it is my own decision whether I want to work or not, isn’t it? I am free to choose. So, I am not obligated to do this job.

Member of cotton HQ: You are obligated.

Entrepreneur: But we do not live in the Soviet Union anymore?!

Member of cotton HQ: Pardon me… You are obligated. And you will be mobilized on a compulsory basis. You live in this Makhalla, you breath the air here. So, you will go and pick cotton!

Entrepreneur: I am not obligated.

Member of cotton HQ: You are obligated and you will go to pick cotton. You live in this state, don’t you? You wear clothes made of cotton. These clothes that you wear are cotton-based. And they are made out of the cotton which is being picked at the moment.

Entrepreneur: Is this determined in the Uzbek Constitution?

Member of cotton HQ: This order was given by the acting president. You have to obey it. You have no right to refuse it. So, you will go to pick cotton. Tell me that you won’t…

Entrepreneur: I won’t… That is just an oral order which is not based on any law.

Member of cotton HQ: Oral orders are still orders. What are you talking about?!

Entrepreneur: It has to be stated in a written form. It has to be legitimate.

Member of cotton HQ: Pardon… Then you will also sign a letter stating that you refuse to go to the cotton harvest. Understood?

Entrepreneur: Yes, indeed, I will sign it.

Member of cotton HQ: Agreed. I will bring the letter and you will sign it. Let’s see. Your provocation is not acceptable. You are obligated to pick cotton.

Entrepreneur: I am not. I live in a free state and I am free to choose.

Member of cotton HQ: Stop your agitation! Instead join Uzbekistan! Tell the people to rather pick cotton. You can do this kind of agitation! But, if you don’t pick cotton, stop telling people to do the same! Just shut the … off. I am following the orders of the government!

Entrepreneur: Can I see your ID?

Member of cotton HQ: What are you saying? I have badges on my shoulders and my ID! It is written here: Laziz Fayziqulov. You can write it down, too. We will also pick cotton! If needed, I will be picking it too! Even 70-year old women are picking. You are still young…