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The World Bank is investing about $500 million dollars in Uzbekistan’s agricultural sector. One of the main crops produced there is cotton, and it is harvested by millions of Uzbek citizens forced into cotton fields by their own government, which oversees one of the world’s largest state-run forced labor systems.

The World Bank has made an unprecedented commitment to end its contract with the government of Uzbekistan if forced labor is found in its project areas, and the International Labour Organization (ILO) agreed to conduct the monitoring, and found multiple indicators of forced labor. Independent civil society monitors have already documented multiple reports of people mobilized against their will in these areas. To keep these monitors quiet, Uzbekistan’s authoritarian government has launched a string of violent attacks, subjecting civil society monitors to body cavity searches, beatings, detention, surveillance and intimidation. 

Please help us tell the World Bank and ILO how important it is to stand with Uzbek citizens to denounce violent retaliation against civil-society monitors and suspend the financing that perpetuates the Uzbek government's use of forced labor!

To ILO Director-General Guy Ryder and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim:
     Reports from civil society monitors in Uzbekistan show that the state-led forced labor system of cotton production is unchanged, and the Uzbek government is using forced labor in 2015 nationwide, including in World Bank project areas. Officials are threatening expulsion from school, termination of employment, and loss of social benefits to coerce people to pick cotton. These threats make clear that coercion is the recruitment practice in use, despite the government’s contractual commitment to ensure no forced labor in World Bank project areas.
     The Uzbek government is also using fear, intimidation and physical violence to prevent monitors from documenting forced labor. Uzbek officials have undertaken a harsh crackdown on civil society monitors in the last several weeks, subjecting them to body cavity searches, beatings, detention, surveillance and intimidation.
     I stand with the missions of the ILO and World Bank for decent work and the end of poverty, and I stand with the people of Uzbekistan speaking out against human rights violations. Thus, I urge you to publicly denounce reprisals against Uzbek citizens reporting the abuse and suspend funding for agricultural projects until the Uzbek government stops its use of forced labor.

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