About the Event
A new joint report by leading independent Turkmen human rights groups exposes systemic forced labor and extortion during the 2020 cotton harvest in Turkmenistan amid pandemic denial and rising economic crisis in the country. The report, Review of the Use of Forced Labor in Turkmenistan During the 2020 Cotton Harvest, was produced jointly by Turkmen.news and the Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights, a milestone collaboration by two of the most prominent independent Turkmen exile groups. Both organizations are members of the Cotton Campaign coalition.
Cotton and cotton products, including garments and home goods, are the second largest export for Turkmenistan after petroleum. Turkmenistan cotton and cotton products are sold in violation of laws that prohibit the sale of goods made with forced labor. The Human Trafficking Legal Center presented evidence that cotton from Turkmenistan taints global supply chains in spite of import bans and other measures. As the world increasingly focuses on forced labor in East Turkestan (Xinjiang), this groundbreaking report documents that forced labor in the cotton sector is not isolated to a specific country or supply chain. Instead, forced labor in any individual country is enabled by global kleptocratic institutions that launder both the unethical origins of cotton picked with forced labor and the financial proceeds.
Turkmen.news is an independent news and human rights organization, which has monitored forced labor in cotton production in Turkmenistan for eight years. The Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights (TIHR) is a leading voice on human rights issues in Turkmenistan and has published first-hand monitoring on a range of rights issues for years on its Chronicles of Turkmenistan website. The Cotton Campaign is a global coalition of human rights, labor, responsible investor, and business organizations dedicated to eradicating child and forced labor in cotton production. The Human Trafficking Legal Center holds traffickers accountable and fights for justice for survivors.
About the Speakers
Allison Gill is the forced labor program director at GLJ-ILRF and the coordinator of the Cotton Campaign. The Cotton Campaign is a multi-stakeholder coalition that has been working since 2008 to eradicate state-imposed forced and child labor in the cotton sector in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.
Farid Tukhbatullin is the founder and director of the Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights, which provides independent news and information about Turkmenistan. TIHR maintains the Chronicles of Turkmenistan website and has published several alternative human rights reports for the UN and other human rights organizations.
Ruslan Myatiev is the founder and editor of Turkmen.News – an independent media and human rights organization dedicated to the promotion of free speech and the rule of law in Turkmenistan.
Anasuya Syam is the Human Rights and Trade Policy Advisor at the Human Trafficking Legal Center. She leads an initiative on the U.S. Tariff Act and forced labor, working with pro bono counsel, civil society groups, government, business and others to insist on greater accountability in addressing forced labor in supply chains.
Moderator: Jeff Bell is Assistant Program Officer at the National Endowment for Democracy, where he covers programs in Central Asia.
Header image courtesy of Turkmen.news.