Chairmen of neighborhood committees known as “mahallas” in Uzbekistan reported that the government ordered them to contribute persons to pick cotton in 2014. The local leaders, traditionally respected as elders of their community, reported the practice to the Initiative Group of Independent Human Rights Defenders of Uzbekistan (IGIHRDU).
The mahalla committee chairmen approached the IGIHRDU this summer to report on the practices of Bahodir Goibnazarova, Senator in the national parliament of Uzbekistan (“Oliy Majlis”) and the mayor (“hokim”) of the Almazar district of Tashkent region.
According to the chairmen, during the 2014 cotton harvest Mr. Goibnazarova ordered them to mobilize five people to pick cotton every 10 days or to pay 400,000 soums per cotton picker. Mr. Goibnazarova then assigned two persons from each shift to work as a janitor at the district government office, known as the hokimiyat. Goibnazarova reportedly enforced the orders with verbal and physical abuse, despite the elderly age of the chairmen.
The IGIHRDU published the chairmen’s report August 14, 2015.