Voices from the fields

“If you refuse to work in the cotton fields, it is almost as if you are a traitor. Once the director gives the orders at a meeting, everybody has to obey. The reason is that the director always tells us that if anyone disobeys his order, he will dismiss that person. This is why we …

“No classes are being held for students at the college. Those who come, spend the day chatting in the classroom till noon and then go back home. This is it: ‘They are receiving education’. Who needs this sort of window-dressing? Soon we will have to make sure that the registers are in good order, that …

“Soon, in the middle of this month, we are supposed to go on vacation. However, I know that this will not happen. Last year we also spent our annual holiday working in the cotton fields. It seems that this year it will be the same. I’m becoming worried now. I have not Often relatives and …

“A return trip to Bogishamol from the place where I live costs me 6,000 Som every day. If we are not in Bogishamol at 7 o’clock in the morning, they deduct 30 per cent from our monthly salaries. I cannot afford this because I have to pay for my son’s studies. This is why I …

“This year we spent more time than ever before in the cotton fields, doing public cleaning work and tree-planting. Moreover, we had to work without a break when the president visited the Fergana Valley. We spent almost one month on the preparations. Thousands of teachers and doctors cleaned the sides of the roads along which …

“Today the director of our school said that from the September 10, September 15 at the latest, everyone would go to pick cotton. According to my sister who works as a nurse in the hospital the chief physician told them to be ready or to pay 875,000 Som. My sister’s salary is not more than …

“It is like this every year. I hire somebody instead of myself. This year, the price of mardikors (replacement workers) has increased. For one month, they ask us to pay at least 800,000 Som ($ 100). If we do not send someone, we will have problems with the administration of the market”.

“Under no circumstances can we say that we are teachers. If someone says that they are a teacher and they are forced to come to collect cotton, if you say this, you will be out of work. With these parting words we were sent to the cotton fields.”

“We will go to the cotton fields on September 15, which is late this year. But everything is set up: the list of our workers going to the fields was sent to the khokimiyat (local administration). The government promised not to involve public sector employees in the cotton harvest anymore. But the organizations have already …

“There are absolutely no reports about preventing the staff of budget-funded organizations from the cotton-picking campaign this year”, said Sh. “The head of our department said: ‘What you heard is nonsense. Who will pick cotton? Just prepare for the cotton-picking campaign!’ There were delays in paying our salaries. Now we have been told that in …