topum (topum) wrote,

Cotton flowers

A group of new volunteers joined us here today. Two of them are from Uzbekistan and they brought us these cotton flowers:

Uzbekistan is known for its cotton (world's fifth largest exporter) and the environmental devastation and forced labour that it takes to farm it there:

"Uzbekistan’s government has traditionally characterized cotton-picking as hashar, a term for voluntary labor that Uzbeks are expected to undertake for the good of the community. In practice, the concept has provided a way for authorities to cast its use of forced labor in the best possible light.

“If you refuse to work in the cotton fields, it is almost as if you are a traitor. … Everybody has to obey,” a schoolteacher in Uzbekistan told a human rights group this spring.

Now it appears that Uzbek authorities are rethinking their use of forced labor, even mulling doing away with the practice altogether. But some experts say for that to happen, a total overhaul of the cotton sector is needed.

Driving teachers, doctors and students out of hospitals, schools and universities and into the cotton fields had been standard practice throughout Uzbekistan’s 26 years of independence. This year’s harvest season began like any other. In the spirit of hashar, the government enlisted celebrities like the singers Yulduz Usmonova and Shahzoda to help with the harvest. Photos on Instagram show the smiling stars romping among the cotton rows and enjoying a slap-up meal with fans."

Imagine being forced to work for free say for Amazon or IKEA in their warehouses a couple of weeks a year. They might also bring your favourite stars and celebrities to work there together with you (and let you take all the selfies you want with them).
Tags: uzbekistan
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