This issue of the “Chronicle of Forced Labor in Uzbekistan“ presents an overview of the Uzbek media over the past three months. Since President Mirziyoyev has taken office, a weakening of censorship has been observed, allowing local journalists to cover stories of forced labor more widely. The last three months have been significant with the leadership of Uzbekistan moving away from complete denial of the existence of forced labor, to acknowledgement of the problem and promises to end this vicious practice. The peak period for mass mobilized forced labor is during the cotton harvest. The forthcoming cotton season will show whether the government of Uzbekistan is ready, willing and able to implement the changes they have promised to eradicate the practice.
ILO explained the use of forced labor in Uzbekistan (February 14, 2018) http://www.fergananews.com/news/28387
The Government of Uzbekistan is demonstrating strong political will to solve the problem of forced labor; however, regional authorities are not keeping up with the processing and execution of an enormous number of orders and decrees. This was reported by the head of the International Labor Organization (ILO) Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work Branch, Beate Andrees, when she presented the report “Independent monitoring of me- asures to end child and forced labor during the cotton harvest in 2017 in Uzbekistan”, commissioned by the World Bank. The ILO again claims that children are not being forced to collect cotton and the problem of forcing adults to participate in the cotton harvest has been resolved by the authorities in a systemic manner.
The ILO report was based on 3,000 personal conversations, for which a representative sample was taken from 2.6 million cotton collectors, as well as information given by 1,000 respondents during phone conversations with citizens. The ILO highlights that this rese- arch was conducted without warning or participation of government officials.
As a result, the ILO concludes that it obtained evidence that the vast majority of cotton collectors worked in the fields voluntarily and that Uzbek people clearly understand the inadmissibility of child and forced labor.
In 2016, the ILO carried out similar monitoring, which resulted in the absence of cases of systemic use of child and forced labor in the cotton sector of Uzbekistan. However, the reports of independent organizations, as well as some human rights defenders, contradict the ILO findings.
In autumn 2017, Fergana news agency reported that the human rights advocate, Yelena Urlayeva, found children working in the fields of Baliqchi district of the Andijan region. She took photos of pupils of the 5th grade of school No.1 who were collecting cotton under the supervision of their teacher. The human rights defender also witnessed teachers of school No.13 bringing primary school children to the fields.
The head of the Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights (UGF), Umida Niyazova, questi- oned the ILO findings and claimed that “…they are far from realistic because the methodo- logy of this organization does not conform to the standards of independent and objective research…I am glad to confirm some positive changes, but there is still much to be done to leave the problem of forced labor in the past.”
Messages from social networks published on the Ozodlik radio website “Teachers Forced to Renovate Houses at Their Own Expense”
(March 04, 2018, https://rus.ozodlik.org/a/29076932.html)
“Before the president’s visit to the Andijan region, public sector employees are forced to renovate houses along the main roads. In Pakhtabad district, the agricultural college principal forces his subordinates to renovate houses in Khayotbakhsh mahalla at their own expense. What a shame and disgrace! Teachers with a higher education degree, who are considered intellectuals, work in other people’s houses for free as ordinary laborers (although laborers are paid for their work)! Heads of institutions humiliating teachers so much do not deserve their positions!”
“School Children in Angar District Still Forced to Collect Waste Paper and Scrap Metal”
(March 04, 2018, https://rus.ozodlik.org/a/29076925.html)
“In the Angar district of the Surkhandaryo region, teachers and pupils are forced to col- lect waste paper and scrap metal. It made their parents very angry. When we asked the school administration whose order it was, they told us that it was the order of the District Department of Public Education. However, when we made a complaint to the Regional Department of Public Education on this matter, we were told that they know nothing about it. Is it possible for the District Department of Public Education to order teachers and pupils to collect waste paper and scrap metal without the order of their supervisory body? On the news websites, we read that the Prime Minister, Abdulla Aripov, said that from now on, neither teachers nor pupils would be forced to collect waste paper and scrap metal. Where are you, Mr. Prime Minister? Ask about the situation with teachers and school children in Angar district!”
“Students in Andijan Forced to Plant Plastic Flowers”
(March 17, 2018, https://rus.ozodlik.org/a/29105969.html)
“Students of the Andijan State University are forced to glue artificial flowers made of plastic to the trees and plant them along the streets. Who do the authorities want to deceive: themselves or the visitors?”
“College Teachers Sent to Clean Railway Crossings”
April 08, 2018 https://rus.ozodlik.org/a/29151878.html
“Teachers of the Gulbakhor industrial professional college in the Yangiyol district of the Tashkent region were forced to clean the railway crossing area.”
Read the complete version at: http://uzbekgermanforum.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Chronicle_of_the_labor.pdf