Radio Ozodlik, the Uzbek Service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, has a news story about students forced to pick cotton in Uzbekistan.
Some students from the medical school in Andijon have told RFE/RL on condition of anonymity that they are being forced to work in cotton fields under draconian conditions.
The students said they are allowed only four hours of sleep a night and are required to fulfill a daily quota of 100 kilograms of cotton picked per student.
“We don’t have normal drinking water,” one student said. “They wake us up whenever they want and force us to go out to the field.”
The students added that their superior, Husan Mamadiev, uses obscenities to reprimand those who can’t meet the quota. Mamadiev denied the allegations about his conduct when contacted by RFE/RL. He said the daily norm of 100 kilograms was set by his superiors, not by him.
RFE/RL also describes the penalties students face if they refuse to pick cotton:
Javlon Toghaev, a former student at the economics faculty at Gulistan City University, told RFE/RL that he is one of numerous students who was expelled from his university for failing to pick the daily norm during last year’s harvest.
Only students from prestigious universities are exempted from the national campaign to pick cotton, says RFE/RL.