Uzbek Citizens Call to “Boycott Uzbek Textile and Companies Using It”

Posted on September 20, 2012 by | No comments

“We, the undersigned citizens of Uzbekistan, call for an international boycott of Uzbek textile and companies that use it. For the Uzbek textile is produced of cotton harvested using forced labour of children and adults. Foreign investors and partners of Uzbek textile companies must comply with international human rights standards, and press for the Uzbek government to respect human rights. Only independent monitoring by the International Labour Organization can confirm when Uzbekistan ceases the practice of forced labour. We urge the European Union and the United States of America to cancel the trade benefits for Uzbek textile manufacturers, provided by the General System of Preferences. Below is a list of companies in Uzbekistan that feed cotton products into supply chains of Western companies. We call for a boycott.

Throughout the post-Soviet period Uzbekistan has not stopped the practice of large-scale forced mobilization of school children, students, employees of enterprises, government agencies and public sector workers to harvest cotton. Under orders from the central government executed by the district and provincial authorities, an estimated two million school children and adults are mobilized every autumn for two months to harvest the cotton. School children and academic year is interrupted, and they work in the cotton fields with no days off. Adults follow orders under threat of punishment, including dismissal from their jobs, losing social security benefits, and fines. Ratification of fundamental conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO) № 29, 105, 138, 182 by Uzbekistan, which prohibit forced labour and child labour, and the adoption of certain legislation to protect the rights of children has not lead to the cessation of forced labour.

Cotton is the main agricultural crop exported by Uzbekistan, and it brings one billion U.S. dollars to the government budget. However, we Uzbek citizens have no access to the information on how the earnings from the export of cotton are used.

The research, mass media coverage of forced labour in Uzbekistan, and the repeated calls made by international organizations to stop the practice of forced labour are not bringing positive outcomes. Appeals to allow the ILO mission to examine the implementation of the country’s international obligations under the four conventions mentioned above are always rejected by the Uzbek government. To fulfil its obligations under these conventions, the Uzbek government will need to dismantle the command system in the cotton sector of the economy, which relies on forced labour. Farmers and their families become victims and hostages of the command economy. The Uzbek government sees no benefit in real agricultural reforms, preferring the old practice, dating back to the days of Stalin.

Since September 2012, we are receiving new reports of forced mobilization of students, doctors, teachers and other groups of citizens for the cotton harvest. The practice of forced labour continues, because the international pressure remains imperceptible for the government of Uzbekistan.

Since 2007, we have been calling for an international boycott of Uzbek cotton, and a number of international companies have supported it. More than 80 companies signed a pledge that they will not knowingly source Uzbek cotton until the government of Uzbekistan ends the practice of forced child labour in its cotton sector. However to identify the country of origin of the cotton in a huge trade flow is technically very difficult, a reality which is well used by the Uzbek government. We therefore call for the start of the next phase of the campaign against forced labour in Uzbekistan – a boycott of Uzbek textile and companies using it.

According to our data, annually more than 250,000 tons of cotton fibre is sold in Uzbekistan to locally-based textile companies. The biggest part of this cotton is obtained by the companies with a foreign capital – joint ventures or subsidiaries of foreign companies. There are at least 50 of these companies. Their products, e.g. yarn and fabrics, are intended for export to global textile and apparel supply chains, and thereby enter Europe and the U.S. In the appendix we provide a complete list of these companies with information identifying their foreign partners.

The list is headed by the enterprises founded by Korean companies who are the largest buyers of Uzbek cotton and textile manufacturers. First of all, these are the enterprises owned by Daewoo International. Its subsidiary “Daewoo Textile Fergana” buys the largest quantity of cotton of any company in the country’s cotton processing industry – about 30,000 tons per year. On the second place is “Daewoo Textile Bukhara” (10,000 tons a year). In addition, there are two more Korean enterprises, LLC «Hain Tex» in Namangan and «Senas Textile» in Andijan. Given the magnitude of Korean investment in the textile industry of Uzbekistan (46,500 tons of cotton purchased per year), it is hard to imagine that they were carried out without the participation of the South Korean government and its embassy in Uzbekistan. The South Korean government is informed of the situation of forced labour in the cotton sector of Uzbekistan and the international campaign for its cessation; however, it has not warned Korean companies about the risks of conducting business with Uzbek cotton and cotton products. Therefore, along with Korean companies the responsibility to boycott Uzbek cotton is shared with the government of South Korea.

We call for a boycott of the entire textile production of Daewoo International as the largest investor in the textile industry in Uzbekistan. Daewoo has to do everything possible to put the pressure on the Uzbek government to bring an end to the slavery in the cotton fields of our country. This is the way forward towards making Uzbekistan’s cotton production comply with the international social standards of business conduct, approved by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, of which South Korea is a member state.

Turkey is the second biggest investor in the Uzbek textile industry. In our country, there are about 11 textile companies with Turkish capital. The largest of them is “Osborn Textile”, owned by Tarmac Group. This company purchases 10,000 tons of Uzbek cotton per year. Below is a full list of companies in Uzbekistan that feed cotton products into supply chains of Western companies.

Our call is primarily addressed to the companies that have confirmed their desire to exclude Uzbek cotton from their supply chain, by signing the Cotton Pledge. This is possible through blacklisting the textile companies indicated on our list. We encourage other enterprises – trading companies, apparel companies and business associations, especially in Europe and North America – to follow their example.

We call upon the European Commission and the U.S. Administration to withdraw Uzbekistan, its cotton and textile, from the General System of Preferences, which provides trade incentives, until the Uzbek government demonstrates that it meets GSP conditionality to protect fundamental human rights.

The boycott of Uzbek cotton and companies using it should continue until the ILO has completed its monitoring and Uzbekistan ends the practice of forced labour. The Uzbek government must show the political will and within one year abolish the practice of exploitation. It is in the interests of the Uzbek people, socio-economic development and the international reputation of our country.”

The full list of Uzbek textile companies can be downloaded here.

The list of signatories can be downloaded here.

1. Atayeva, Nadejda France, Contact Person; President, Association for Human Rights in Central Asia, asiecentrale@neuf.fr;
2. Obid, Jodgor Austria, Poet; member, International PEN;
3. Ignqtyev, Sergey USA, Coordinator of the project “Art and Human Rights” of the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia;
4. Bushueva, Natalia Sweden, Editor, Radio program “SOS”, Association for Human Rights in Central Asia;
5. Dadadjanov, Ismail Sweden, Chairman, Democratic Forum of Uzbekistan;
6. Iskhakova, Dilarom Uzbekistan, Literati;
7. Khudoydergenov, Iskander Uzbekistan, Human rights activist;
8. Isabekov, Bakhtioyr Uzbekistan PhD in of Philology;
9. Nurullayeva, Gulchekhra Uzbekistan Literati;
10. Juma, Yusuf USA Literati;
11. Aripov, Atanazar UZbekistan Secretary General, “Erk” Democratic Party of Uzbekistan;
12. Ikramov, Surat Uzbekistan Chair, Initiative Group of Uzbekistan’s Independent Human Rights Defenders surat.i @rambler.ru ;
13. Imomov, Sanjarali Uzbekistan, Literati;
14. Bekjan, Safar Switzerland, Literati;
15. Boymatov, Abdujalil Ireland, President, Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan;
16. Umarov, Sanjar USA, Chairman, Sun Shine Coalition sanjar.umarov@gmail.com;
17. Yakub, Shahida UK, Chair, Uzbek Initiative-London;
18. Choriyev, Bahodir USA, Chairman, “Birdamlik” People’s Movement birdamlik@gmail.com;
19. Niyazova, Umida Germany, Uzbek-German Forum for human Rights;
20. Yuldashev, Tashpulat USA, Political scientist;
21. Boymatov, Salomatoy Ireland, Member, Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan;
22. Yeshova, Bashorat Switzerland, Coordinator, Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan;
23. Urlaeva, Elena Uzbekistan, Chair, “Human Rights Alliance of Uzbekistan” Public movement;
24. Karaeva, Gulshan Uzbekistan, Chair of the Kashkadarya branch, Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan;
25. Toksanov, Alisher Switzerland, Independent Journalist;
26. Ismoilov, Sukhrobjon Uzbekistan, Expert Working Group of Uzbekistan;
27. Babadjanov, Kudrat Sweden, Independent Journalist;
28. Abidov, Alisher Norway, Human rights activist;
29. Kutbiddinov, Khusniddin USA, Independent Journalist;
30. Muxtarov, Farhodhon, Uzbekistan Human rights activist;
31. Karaev, Tulkin Sweden, Member, Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan;
32. Khaydarov, Ulughbek Canada, Independent journalist and human rights activist, winner of the Hellman-Hammett Prize;
33. Episova, Daria USA, Independent Journalist;
34. Sapurov, Oleg Uzbekistan, Human rights activist;
35. Mamatkulova, Muborakkhon Uzbekistan, Member, “Birdamlik” party;
36. Abdurakhimov, Abdulatif Sweden, Political refugee;
37. Isakov, Dilmurod Sweden Member, “Ezgulik” Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan;
38. Bakaev, Abdumalik Sweden Political refugee;
39. Isakov, Avaz Sweden Member, “Ezgulik” Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan;
40. Usupov, Bayramali Demark, Political refugee;
41. Ganiev, Rafik Sweden, Member, “Ezgulik” Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan;
42. Narbutaev, Nabidjon Sweden, Member, “Birlik” Party;
43. Akhmedov, Asadullo Norway, Political refugee;
44. Akhmedova, Dildora Norway, Political refugee;
45. Anderson, Daniel Norway, Political refugee;
46. Anderson, David Norway, Political refugee;
47. Khodzhaev, Shavkat Uzbekistan, Member, “Birlik” Party;
48. Kiyamova, Rufiya Uzbekistan, Member, “Birlik” Party;
49. Rakhimov, Ota Uzbekistan, Member, Democratic Forum of Uzbekistan;
50. Kazimov, Davlat Uzbekistan, Member, Democratic Forum of Uzbekistan;
51. Kazimova, Saodat Uzbekistan, Member, Democratic Forum of Uzbekistan;
52. Kazimova, Zakhro Uzbekistan, Member, Democratic Forum of Uzbekistan;
53. Davronov, Bek Uzbekistan, Political refugee;
54. Iskhanov, Zubaid Uzbekistan, Political refugee;
55. Karimov, Ibodat Uzbekistan, Political refugee;
56. Karimov, Anvar USA, Political refugee;
57. Karimov, Avaz USA, Political refugee;
58. Karimov, Aub USA, Political refugee;
59. Bobokhonov, Inom USA, Political refugee;
60. Bobokhonov, Ilkhom USA, Political refugee;
61. Kabimov, Rustam Uzbekistan, A member of the Democratic Forum of Uzbekistan;
62. Kasimova, Farida Uzbekistan, A member of the Democratic Forum of Uzbekistan;
63. Suunov, Karim Uzbekistan, A member of the Democratic Forum of Uzbekistan;
64. Ishmatov, Rafik Uzbekistan, A member of the Democratic Forum of Uzbekistan;
65. Alibekov, Bek Uzbekistan A member of the Democratic Forum of Uzbekistan;
66. Abutov, Mukhammadsalikh Sweden, Chairmamn, NGO “Tayanch” ;
67. Khudaynazarov, Dustnazar Sweden, Member, “Erk” Party;
68. Egamberdiev, Asror, Uzbekistan;
69. Fayazov, Avaz Sweden, Member, International Organization Human Rights Defenders
70. Gafurov, Khait Sweden, Political refugee;
71. Khadjimatov, Khatam Norway, Political refugee;
72. Zaynabitdinov, Ulugbek Sweden, Political refugee;
73. Ruzimatov, Kamil Ukraine;
74. Ikramov, Jalil Ukraine;
75. Makhkamov, Rustam Uzbekistan;
76. Ishmatov, Komil Uzbekistan;
77. Ruzikulov, Ikrom Uzbekistan;
78. Abidova, Zulfia Norway, Political refugee;
79. Abidova, Kamilia Norway, Political refugee;
80. Isaev, Burkhon Norway, Political refugee;
81. Kadyrov, Bakhodyr Norway, Political refugee;
82. Ikramov, Abos Norway, Political refugee;
83. Khodjaev, Jalokhir Norway, Political refugee;
84. Abdullaev, Akmal Norway, Political refugee;
85. Tursunov, Zakhid Norway, Political refugee;
86. Safaev, Umid Norway, Political refugee;
87. Djuraev, Bakhrom Norway, Political refugee;
88. Izatullaev, Nemat Norway, Political refugee;
89. Fazilova, Mukhabbat Norway, Political refugee;
90. Akbarov, Sanjar Norway, Political refugee;
91. Khamraev, Oybek Norway, Political refugee;
92. Khasanov, Dilshod Norway, Political refugee;
93. Khodjaev, Pulat Norway, Political refugee;
94. Obidov, Batyr Norway, Political refugee;
95. Khakimova, Dildora Sweden, Political refugee;
96. Salikh, Mukhammad Norway, Chairman, People’s Movement of Uzbekistan m.solih49@gmail.com;
97. Temirov, Khasan Sweden;
98. Normumin, Namoz Sweden, Member of the Central Council, People’s Movement of Uzbekistan;
99. Shomansurov, Alidjon Norway;
100. Kurbanov, Tahir Norway;
101. Satvoldiev, Izzat Norway;
102. Abdullaev, Nosyr Norway;
103. Agzamov, Shavkat Norway;
104. Nazirov, Maksim France
105. Mukhammad, Shavkat Kazakhstan;
106. Eliboev, Bokhodir Uzbekistan Member, Initiative Group of Uzbekistan’s Human Right Defenders;
107. Sharipova, Saida Russia;
108. Yusupova, Khurshed Russia;
109. Mamadjonov, Mustafo Russia;
110. Makhmudov, Sukhbatjon Russia;
111. Fayzimatov, Ilkhom Russia;
112. Usmanov, Mukhitdin Russia;
113. Usmanov, Niriddin Uzbekistan;
114. Sufiev, Sherzod Russia;
115. Mukhammadi, Shavkat Russia;
116. Mirzoboev, Burkhonjon Uzbekistan;
117. Kurbanov, Bakhodir Uzbekistan;
118. Solieva, Shakhnoza Uzbekistan;
119. Sattarova, Umida Uzbekistan;
120. Akhmedov, Gulom Uzbekistan;
121. Akhmedova, Ozoda Uzbekistan;
122. Khamroev, Muslimbek Uzbekistan;
123. Dekhkanov, Muzafar Uzbekistan;
124. Dekhkanova, Guzal Uzbekistan

The statement can be downloaded as a PDF here.

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