“You work like a slave from morning till night, not enough food, [we] sleep and wake up hungry again.” – student of Andijan Agricultural Institute, Uzbekistan, September 2016.
Every year the Government of Uzbekistan, one of the world’s largest exporters of cotton, forces hundreds of thousands of people out of their regular jobs and sends them to the cotton fields to toil for weeks in arduous and hazardous conditions. Some have even died in fields from extreme heat and accidents.
Watch our two minutes video explaining the practice:
End Cotton Crimes campaign
We work in partnership with the Cotton Campaign, a wide coalition of organisations, lobbying governments, international organisations and businesses to put pressure on the governments of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan to end these abuses.
Our work has recently been made harder by the increasingly lenient approach by governments and international organisations towards Uzbekistan after it stopped forcing children to pick cotton – following years of campaigning by the Cotton Campaign – but replaced them with adults.
But much of that is down to the Uzbek government’s propaganda narrative, systematic forced labour has been eliminated. It has not, as shown in as our short documentary containing rare first hand evidence directly from the frontline during the 2016 harvest:
Much remains to be done to end the practice.
We recently campaigned to stop the World Bank financing Uzbek agricultural projects, and recently campaigned against a trade deal between the European Union and Uzbekistan that that was unfortunately passed by the European Parliament in December 2016.
We have a long way to go to encourage governments, international organisations and businesses to step up the pressure on Uzbekistan to stop using slavery practices to produce the cotton that we all use.
Please sign up to our campaign for the latest news and update on action needed to stop Uzbek cotton crimes for good.