Join Us in New York on October 1st to Protest Forced Labor in Turkmenistan Bring attention to both the continued forced labor practices and the arbitrary detainment of Gaspar Matalaev, while the Turkmen president is speaking at the United Nations General Assembly
For Immediate Release: September 25, 2018 Join Us in New York on October 1st to Protest Forced Labor in Turkmenistan Bring attention to both the continued forced labor practices and the arbitrary detainment of Gaspar Matalaev, while the Turkmen president is speaking at the United Nations General Assembly
Washington, DC – On October 1st, the President of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, will be speaking at the United Nations General Assembly in New York City. Turkmenistan continues to force teachers, doctors, nurses, and government employees to pick cotton during the harvest season, which is happening now. On top of this, children are still being forced to participate in the cotton industry. Join us in telling the United Nations Secretary General António Guterres and the Turkmen president that enough is enough.
Please join us on Monday, October 1st, 12 – 2 p.m. at Ralph Bunche Park, 1st Ave. &, E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017.
Additionally, please sign our petition to free Gaspar Matalaev, Alternative Turkmenistan News (ATN) reporter, who monitored and reported on the systematic use of forced adult and child labor in Turkmenistan during cotton harvesting. He was arrested in October 2016, just two days after his extensive report on Turkmenistan’s labor practices was published by ATN. While in detention, Matalaev has been tortured with electric shock, held incommunicado, and did not have access to effective legal representation or to files, information, and documents throughout the investigation and trial. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions (UN WGAD) found the arrest and deprivation of liberty of Gaspar Matalaev arbitrary.
If you are not able to join, please reach out to your colleagues, allies, and friends in New York and encourage them to take a stand with us for the people of Turkmenistan who deserve better! Please see the Facebook event for more information: https://www.facebook.com/events/369598570246154/
Background: Each year the government of Turkmenistan forces tens of thousands of workers from public and private sectors to either pick cotton during the harvest season or pay a bribe to their supervisors to hire a replacement worker to pick cotton instead. This takes place under the threat of punishment, including public censure, loss of wages, and termination of employment. The government treats refusal to contribute to the cotton harvest as insubordination, incitement to sabotage, and even ‘contempt of the homeland.’
The government of Turkmenistan uses systematic coercion to produce cotton, every year forcing farmers to grow cotton to fulfill government quotas and forcing other citizens, including children, to pick it. All Turkmen cotton is associated with forced labor and other human rights violations. Some brands have already stopped sourcing textiles from Turkmenistan because of that risk. In May 2018, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection conducted its own investigation and formally banned all Turkmen cotton and textiles from entering the U.S. market.
During the 2017 harvest, despite the national ban to involve children in harvesting cotton, the pressure to fulfill government quotas led to mobilization of children to pick cotton.
The 2018 harvest recently started and already dozens of people were injured, and some hospitalized, in a bus accident. The crash occurred in the eastern city of Turkmenabat. The roughly 40 kindergarten and secondary school staff on the bus were traveling to Farap district, 30 km outside of Turkmenabat because they were mobilized to pick cotton.
Journalists and human rights defenders who attempt to document and report upon forced labor do so at great personal risk and face intimidation, harassment, arrest and imprisonment.
Please join us in New York to protest forced labor in Turkmenistan on Monday, October 1st, 12 – 2 p.m. at Ralph Bunche Park, 1st Ave. &, E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017.
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