Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoev has promised to end forced labor in his country’s cotton fields, a practice that dates back to Uzbekistan’s time as a Soviet republic.
Mirziyoev said the same thing last year, and while there was some slight improvement in 2017, Uzbekistan was still far from ending the conscription of teachers, students, medical personnel, and others into the fields.
No one expected changes overnight.
Last year was Mirziyoev’s first year as president. Will his second year bring significant change to the policy of forced labor in the cotton fields?
RFE/RL's media relations manager, Muhammad Tahir, moderated a discussion about the changes Uzbekistan has made so far, what the government is promising to do, and what the chances are that 2018 will be better.
From Cambridge, Massachusetts, Allison Gill, an associate at the Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights, took part in the discussion. From Washington, Rudolph Porter, the head of the Europe and Central Asia department at the Solidarity Center, participated. And from California, our good friend Steve Swerdlow, researcher for Central Asia at Human Rights Watch, joined the talk.
It should be mentioned that all three of these organizations are part of the Cotton Campaign that seeks to end forced labor in the cotton fields.
And I’ve picked cotton in Central Asia, so I wanted to say something also.
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