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Compulsory Cotton Harvest Under Way In Uzbekistan

  • RFE/RL's Uzbek Service

The compulsory cotton harvest campaign has started in Uzbekistan.

Medical personnel and medical students across the country are among the first Uzbeks to be sent to cotton fields for harvest work this year.

Signs on the doors of some medical facilities say: "Everyone is picking cotton. Clinic closed until 1800."

Medical students report being forced to sign documents saying the signatory is attending the harvest works "voluntarily, in order to help his motherland to thrive."

A signatory agrees to leave university if he or she gives up picking cotton without good reason.

Rights advocates have long criticized Uzbek authorities they say force ordinary people, inducing children, to work in the cotton fields.

In 2012, more than 100 international clothing makers boycotted Uzbek cotton over the use of forced child labor.

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