POLITICS | 16:01 / 13.04.2023
5 min read

“Effectiveness of reforms in Uzbekistan requires tireless work and strong political will” – Cotton Campaign

The leader of the international coalition Cotton Campaign, Bennett Freeman, called on the government to “return to reform”. According to him, the government has two options. “One is to be a repressive regime. The second is to continue opening up and give opportunities to young people to turn the country into a prosperous country”.

Bennett Freeman Photo: Reuters

At the consultation meeting held by the US National Endowment for Democracy, members of the Cotton Campaign international coalition, experts, officials and diplomats discussed the work being done to combat forced labor in Uzbekistan, Voice of America reports.

Achievements in the 15-year struggle, in particular, the fact that the government does not force people to become cotton farmers, the reforms in agriculture, the decisions and laws adopted to improve working conditions, the opening of the republic to the world since 2017, and the expansion of cooperation with the international community are considered significant progress.

According to Bennett Freeman, one of the founders of the international coalition of the Cotton Campaign, although there are many experts who know the need for changes and reforms in the government of Uzbekistan, in the last year, since the boycott was lifted, the efforts have not been as expected.

“We know that the people who rule Uzbekistan want the country to integrate with the global economy, to become an important part of it. Respect for international labor standards, adherence to human rights norms are primary tasks. You can’t get away with saying we honor them. You still need to work hard for foreign businesses to invest in you and trust you,” Freeman said, referring to the government of Uzbekistan.

He added that the Cotton Campaign believes that reforms in Uzbekistan will work because they have witnessed it. However, this is a process that requires hard work and strong political will.

“The republic has begun to be cited as an example in the fight against forced labor of adults and children, but it is easy to lose this prestige if it does not maintain the progress achieved so far. Unless Uzbekistan takes more serious steps regarding labor rights and human rights in general, and does not improve the real situation, dreams will remain on paper, plans and roadmaps will turn into nonsense. It is necessary to act according to the standards of the International Labor Organization, and in this regard, it is necessary to facilitate the environment for the parties ready to help, in particular, non-governmental organizations and activists.

We want the government of Uzbekistan to return to reforms and not to lose the historical opportunity it has created for itself. The fight against forced labor throughout the country should not stop, let’s pay attention to the problems. The government of Uzbekistan has two options. One is to be a repressive regime. The second is to continue opening up and giving opportunities to young people to make the country a prosperous country. Do you need capital and jobs? Tashkent should know which way is best,” Freeman said.

Representatives of the Cotton Campaign talked with Furkat Siddikov, the new ambassador of Uzbekistan to the United States, and said that despite the difficulties, he is full of hope.

Siddikov informed them that the administration of President Mirziyoyev is determined to completely eliminate forced labor and the efforts have not stopped.

Related News