On January 7-8, 2018, Akmaljon Jalolov, hokim (governor) of the Izboskan district of Andijan region, held a special session of the district council of people’s deputies to announce that farmers, who did not meet their quotas for cotton or wheat production last year, must give up their land to the state.
Farmers who attended the meeting told radio Ozodlik that some of them were shocked by the hokim’s decision. However, the hokim called for the agricultural land seizure decree to be voted on by the deputies and the deputies supported the governor’s decision.
“Is it necessary to seize land if the quota is not met?”
One of the farmers who participated in the meeting held by the hokim and who asked for his name to be kept secret told radio Ozodlik that the governor ordered the land seized from all farmers who did not fulfill the cotton quota:
“This decision is not relevant to me but I feel for other farmers who live nearby. Even if a farmer, who has been working for years, always fulfilling the quota, did not harvest enough cotton or wheat only one year, his land will be seized. For example, after hearing about the hokim’s decree, Muhammadjon Abdurakhmonov, the head of the Bakhtiyor-zamin-niyati farm, stood up and said: “Every year I exceed the quota. I have no debts to any organization. But this year, I fell short of the quota by 5%, and even so my net profit amounted to 90 million.” The governor responded by saying: “You do not attend meetings regularly.” The farmer said: “I told the local policeman that I was ill but hokim did not listen to him.”
According to him, almost half of the farmers from the governor’s list regularly meet the government’s quotas for cotton and wheat, but only one year did not produce enough cotton to fulfill the annual quota.
“I have no debts and I receive income, why should I lose my land?”
Radio Ozodlik talked to several farmers whose lands had been seized. They asked not to disclose their names or the names of their farms.
A farmer who has been exceeding his quota for cotton and wheat production for more than the past ten years and who has fulfilled 90 percent of his cotton quota harvest last year says he has filed a complaint with the regional prosecutor’s office claiming he was dissatisfied with the governor’s decision:
“Each year I fulfill my commitment with regard to wheat and cotton. I do not have any debts for oil or chemicals. During the session, the governor did not talk to anyone, he just said ‘your land is seized and kicked me out of the meeting.’ The governor had never seen my land and never asked about my business,” said the farmer.
“Good farmers should not be punished!”
Another farmer who spoke to Ozodlik said his land was taken because he did not fulfill his cotton quota:
“Farmers are now gathering and complaining to the president’s portal and filed a complaint with the regional prosecutor’s office. So if I have been a successful farmer for many years, have all the equipment and did not fulfill the quota only once, my land should be seized? We scrutinized the laws and according to the legislation, only if a farmer fails to fulfill the quota for three years, does he have to return his land to the state reserve. Does the hokim not know that?” said the farmer.
Alisher Tillaboyev, who has been the longest-serving collective farm chairman in Izboskan’s district history, also criticized the authorities’ irrational judgment:
“Alisher ota [respectful form] took the farmers’ side and said. ‘If we do this, the best farmers will leave. It should be re-examined, and the farmers who worked well should not be punished,’ said Alisher ota. But the hokim did not even consider his words,” said the farmer.
There were also deputies who took the farmers’ side
At the session on January 7, some deputies spoke out in support of farmers in their area.
One of the farmers, who asked to remain anonymous, told us that the hokim cursed the deputies:
“A deputy from the Kugay block defended the farmers. The governor harshly responded: ‘I will investigate you myself, if necessary.’ Then everyone fell silent. The decision was put to a vote, all deputies voted in favor and the decree passed,” said the farmer.
“President gave powers, and now the governor does whatever he wants”
One of the deputies of the Izboskan district council, who was asked for his name to be kept secret, said that in reality an injustice has been done to most farmers:
“Of course, among these farmers 40 to 50 percent fulfill the quota. But it was wrong to include farmers who fulfilled the quota and made a great deal of money each year in the list of those whose land will be seized. But who can challenge the hokim’s decision now? The chief law enforcement officer, the prosecutor, was there. He said not a word. He would not speak because the president himself has given the governor a great deal of authority. ‘I appointed the governors. If you arrest them, I will have you arrested.’ Because of this, no hokim will listen to a deputy,” said the deputy.
Do the governor and the deputy have the right to seize farmers’ lands?
According to the Law on Farming, the liquidation of a farm may occur if the farmer voluntarily gives up his lease agreement; if the farm is declared bankrupt; or if a farmland is not used for intended purposes; in particular, land plots used for cultivating crops not envisaged in the terms of the agricultural procurement contract, must be seized.
A farming enterprise shall be liquidated in accordance with the decision of the farm manager and in cases provided for by the law.
The law does not stipulate that the liquidation of the farm is subject to the competence of the district council of people’s deputies.
According to farmers, on January 8, 2018, the hokim again met with deputies, horticultural and vegetable farmers, and announced that land was seized from more than a hundred farmers.
At a coordination meeting with regional officials, the district hokim reported to the head of the region that the decision was made to seize the land from a total of 249 farmers.
According to Ozodlik’s sources, 17 farmers who did not meet the quota were deprived of their lands in the neighboring Pakhtabad district.
“We will talk if you come to us”
Akrom Burhanov, head of the Izboskan district farmers’ union, refused to answer questions about the return of farmers’ lands and ended the phone conversation.
Abdumalik Valiyev, deputy hokim of the Izboskan district on agricultural issues, confirmed that lands of 249 farmers had been seized, but said he would not provide the details on the phone:
“Let’s talk here,” said the governor’s deputy.
“Ozodlik’s” attempts to contact the governor, Akmaljon Jalolov, were not successful.
Translated from Russian.
The original article was published on January 18, 2018, by Sadriddin Ashur on the website of Radio Ozodlik.