Uzbekistan lost another young farmer to suicide, reports Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty Uzbek Service “Radio Ozodlik”. On July 2, Nodirbek Khaydarov hanged himself, after officials threatened to imprison him for not fulfilling his state-imposed quota for wheat production, a victim of the government’s forced-labor system of agriculture.
The Uzbek government forces farmers to fulfill production quotas for cotton and wheat each year under threat of punishment, including loss of land, physical abuse, criminal and civil charges and fines. Regional, district and city officials as well as national security service and the police threaten penalties at regular meetings convened for the authorities to check on farmers’ progress towards state-assigned production quotas.
Mr. Khaydarov was only 29 years old and a resident of Paytug in Izboskan district, Andijan region. According to Ozodlik’s report, he had struggled to produce enough wheat to satisfy the Uzbek government for years.
In the last two years, Radio Ozodlik has reported four cases of farmers committing suicide after authorities severely coerced them to produce the state’s strategic crops. The suicides mark a low point in the government’s 25-year history of forcing farmers to fulfill production quotas under threat of penalty.
The Cotton Campaign sends its condolences to the family of Mr. Khaydarov. Furthermore, we call on the international community to press the Uzbek government to end its forced labor system of agriculture production.