Adeline Zensius- International Labor Rights Forum
Several Uzbek dissidents traveled from Arizona to Washington, D.C. today to help raise awareness of the human rights abuses going on in their home country.
Over 50 human rights advocates from the International Labor Rights Forum, American Federation of
Teachers, AFL-CIO, Child Labor Coalition, Not For Sale Campaign, SEIU, and Workers United joined the Uzbek dissidents for a rally outside Hotel Washington during the 2011 U.S.-Uzbekistan Annual Business Forum.
The human rights advocates were calling for an end to forced child labor and other human rights abuses in Uzbekistan. Each harvest, hundreds of thousands of children, teenagers, and adults are forced to work in Uzbekistan’s cotton fields. Students as young as 7 years old are threatened with being kicked out of school or receiving poor grades, while adults are threatened with being fired from work or having their state-run utilities cut off.
During the rally, one of the Uzbek dissidents told the story of his daughter, who attended a university in Uzbekistan and was required to go pick cotton in the cotton fields every day during each year’s harvest. “She had no time to do her homework,” he said. If she had refused to participate in the harvest, she would have been kicked out of school.
During this year’s cotton harvest, students have already begun reporting the human rights abuses that they suffer. They are allowed only four hours of sleep a night. They are required to fulfill a daily quota of 100 kilograms of cotton per student. They are expelled from school if they do not participate.
These abuses keep students from the education that they deserve, and we must do our part to increase pressure on the Government of Uzbekistan to stop state-sponsored child labor and adult forced labor.
Click here to learn more about ILRF’s cotton campaign in Uzbekistan.
Adeline has been an intern with the ILRF since February 2011. She is a graduate student at Georgetown University pursuing a Master of Public Policy.