You may have heard of Daewoo cars or electronics but did you know that Daewoo is the largest processor of slave labour-picked Uzbek cotton?
In Uzbekistan’s last cotton harvest, eleven citizens forced to pick cotton lost their lives. The tragic losses included Tursunali Sadikov, a 63-year old farmer who died of a heart attack after being beaten by an official of the Department of Internal Affairs, and Amirbek Rakhmatov, a six-year schoolboy who accompanied his mother to the cotton fields, napped in a trailer, and suffocated when cotton was loaded on top of him.
Image source: Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty Uzbek Service
Daewoo has continued doing business in Uzbekistan even after publicly acknowledging that the Uzbek government uses forced labour to produce the cotton it buys and processes. If Daewoo were to stop operations in Uzbekistan and publicly pledge its opposition to the Uzbek government’s forced labour system, Daewoo would send a strong message to the Uzbek government that forced labour cannot continue.
The Central Asian nation of Uzbekistan is one of the largest producers of cotton globally. Recently released reports document that during the latest harvest, the Uzbek government continued to force over a million children and adults– including teachers, nurses and doctors– to work in the fields and meet daily picking quotas. Children and adults subjected to this state-orchestrated system of modern slavery miss out on education or their wages, and many citizens are threatened and beaten.