In late April of 2017, spring field work began in the cotton fields of Uzbekistan. Hundreds of thousands of public sector employees throughout the country are currently being mobilized to help local farmers in the cotton sector. This year the Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights is again monitoring the involvement of government employees in the agricultural field work. The monitoring is being carried out in six of the 13 regions of Uzbekistan.
"According to our preliminary data, forced mobilization for agricultural work affects almost every state-owned organization in the country (except large cities). Employees work on the fields in turns, usually two to three times per week, or pay money to hire someone else in their place" - reported by Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights.
In addition to the weeding of the cotton fields, these workers are sent to plant pumpkins and corn along the surrounding areas of grain and cotton fields. In some areas they are involved in the cultivation of silkworm caterpillars for the state.
"Mobilized employees work for free, often pay for their own travel expenses, and have to bring their own food to the fields" - observed by Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights.
The situation of Uzbek farmers who are being deprived of their economic freedom remains deplorable. They are still denied the right to choose freely what to plant on their land and how to use their products. Instead, they are forced to plant cotton which is not profitable for them.
In April and May 2017, in addition to the systematic mobilization of the Uzbek population for agricultural work, employees of the educational and medical sector are involved in other public services, mainly the cleaning of streets, the planting of flowers and the cleaning of roadside irrigation ditches.
Report and translation provided by Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights