Cotton Campaign outraged at death of Uzbek labor rights activist Global coalition demands immediate release for allied activist still imprisoned
For Immediate Release (Washington, D.C. - June 22, 2017) – The Cotton Campaign is shocked and saddened to learn this week that labor rights activist Nuriddin Jumaniyazov apparently died in prison of complications related to diabetes on December 31, 2016, but this information was not made public until June 15. In 2014 Jumaniyazov and fellow activist Fakhriddin Tillayev were sentenced to six and eight years respectively on trumped up charges in retaliation for organizing an independent labor union.
Jumaniyazov and Tillayev were falsely accused of human trafficking, tortured and convicted in a trial that violated fair trial standards. Allies had tried to send medicine to Jumaniyazov to treat his diabetes through his lawyer, but prison authorities prevented him from receiving the medicine he needed to survive. Tillayev remains imprisoned.
“Jumaniyazov’s death shows the risks faced by independent labor activists in Uzbekistan,” said Umida Niyazova director of the Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights. “Global institutions that work with the Uzbek government should demand Tillayev’s immediate release, and that protections are put in place to ensure human rights defenders are free to work without fear of retaliation.”
Since 2010 Jumaniyazov and Tillaev had worked to establish an independent union of day laborers, and faced increasing persecution by authorities as their organizing efforts gained traction. In Uzbekistan, hundreds of thousands of day laborers who have fled high unemployment in rural areas seek work in Tashkent and other large cities. Left without options for decent work, they are vulnerable to extortion by police for bribes in exchange for ignoring residency permit violations, and to exploitation and abuse by employers as they often work without contracts in precarious conditions.
“We mourn the death of Nuriddin Jumaniyazov,” said IUF General Secretary Ron Oswald, “and place the blame squarely on the government of Uzbekistan’s consistent failure to respect international human rights standards and determination to crush all attempts by workers to exercise their right to form independent, democratic trade unions.”
The Federation of Trade Unions of Uzbekistan (FTUU), Uzbekistan’s only national trade union confederation, and its affiliates are not independent and represents the interests of the Uzbek government rather than members. In its strategic plan, the FTUU states that its role is to implement tasks imposed by the state.
IUF included the cases of Jumaniyazov and Tillaev in a submission to the International Labour Organization (ILO) presented in August 2016, which asserted Uzbekistan is in violation of its obligation to respect workers’ rights to form trade unions and collectively bargain.
With Jumaniyazov’s death, it is even more important for the ILO and other global bodies that work with Uzbekistan to demand Tillaev’s immediate release and to promote fundamental labor rights in the country.
CONTACT: Cotton Campaign Coordinator - c/o International Labor Rights Forum, 1634 I Street NW, Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20006. +1 202-347-4100, cottoncampaigncoordinator [at] gmail.com