A translation of a report from the field from the indefatiguable Elena Urlayeva, a human rights defender based in Tashkent, via Bakhadyr Namazov, a human rights advocate from the Committee for the Release of Prisoners of Conscience in Uzbekistan and an independent journalist, dated May 24, 2011:
Elena reports that she is in Khojeyli district in the Republic of Karakalpakstan, monitoring child labor.
"As I've been monitoring, I have been followed the entire time by unidentified persons in cars, and they are changing cars constantly. At the Dustlik and Akhunbayev farms, I observed that college and school students are laboring in the fields. They are doing the weeding. While the secondary school students are coming to work after their lessons, the college students have been here straight since May 10. The students are from fifth grade and up.
I intend to meet with the khokim (head of the local administration) and express my protest about this."
[Bahadyr Namazov continues]:
We have also observed students from schools and colleges in other districts of Karakalpakstan and almost all the provinces of Uzbekistan doing agricultural work (weeding, sowing, etc.)
There is no information that these students are receiving any monetary compensation. After all, they can always chalk it up for the good of the cause. The Soviet school is alive and well!
Nothing is changing in this regard. Everything remains as it has always been.
Although many have already come out of their Soviet hypnosis (that was their excuse right after the collapse of the Soviet Union), at least they aren't embarrassed to live in luxury at another's expense.
As we heard from Amb. Norov during his recent trip to Germany, the threadbare excuse is still being used that Uzbekistan is still suffering from its Soviet legacy of exploiting children in the cotton industry, nearly 20 years after the collapse of the USSR.