In the Yukkorichirchick district of Tashkent region, the authorities have informed parents that their young children will be excused from cotton harvesting duties if parents hand over payment of 20,000 soums (around US$8.00).
“People in my own farming collective are quite well off and the authorities expected that they would all pay the 20,000 sum,” said Adelaida Kim, a member of the Human Rights Alliance of Uzbekistan (PAU). She said that the cotton harvest had not yet started, and although the youngest pupils are still in school, teachers are already collecting money from them.
“The children won’t be in class for much longer,” says Petr Li, parent of a child at school No.19. “We have been told that once the cotton harvest begins, they’ll close the school, because all the teachers will be out gathering ‘white gold’.”
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