By Malokhat Eshonkulova, journalist, member of the Human Rights Alliance of Uzbekistan, and forced labor monitor for the Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights:
On October 30, the police confiscated six cows and 32 sheep from Ulugbek Botirov, a resident of the mahalla Huja Ilgor in the Yakkabag district of Kashkadarya region Uzbekistan.
The livestock roamed the Amir Timur farm freely, unaware that the farmer had not delivered the state-assigned quota for cotton production. To penalize the farmer, the district prosecutor ordered the police to take livestock from farmers who had not fulfilled their "white gold" quotas.
Mr. Botirov's wife Manzura Turobova provided the following account in an interview:
"We have two little children. My husband Ulugbek Botirov is responsible for irrigation and shepherding the herd, six cows and 32 sheep, for the farmer Gayrat. The cows and five of the sheep belong to us. On October 30 around 6 in the evening my husband led the herd from the pasture to the village, and two police officers took the whole herd. It turns out that Gayrat had not fulfilled the plan for cotton production this year, and the district prosecutor ordered the police to take livestock from farmers who failed to comply with the plan."
"The police did not even ask who owned the cows and sheep. I don't have any written document confirming the confiscation. They did not give us any sort of paper, and just took them away. My husband went to the district prosecutor's office everyday for four days, but the prosecutor did not let him in. No one wanted to listen to him. We even tried to accompany him, my 80-year old mother-in-law and I. Still useless."
"So I stood in front of the prosecutor's car, and when he left the office I told him, 'Either you kill me or you give me back my cattle. My mother-in-law bought 5 of the sheep with her pension. Six sheep will belong to my children. If you won't give them back to me, you can just crush me with your car!' The prosecutor replied that the cows and sheep had been sold, and that I can buy cows from a butcher in Shakhrisabz, Bayuk. The prosecutor would pay the butcher. We found him, and he gave us cows."
"But we still have lost 32 sheep that belonged to us and our neighbors. The neighbors are demanding the return of their sheep. The prosecutor said that we should be grateful for the return of the cows and that the sheep would not be returned. The prosecutor has ruined my family! What shall we do now?"