As I write, in Turkmenistan many schools and hospitals are short-staffed while tens of thousands of citizens – including teachers, doctors, government workers, AND children – are being forced to pick cotton.
This is why earlier this afternoon, during Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov’s first visit to the United States in three years, I protested with members of the Cotton Campaign and allies in front of the United Nations. We called on the UN Secretary General António Guterres to demonstrate a strong commitment to ending forced labor in Turkmenistan’s cotton sector and to demand the release of journalist Gaspar Matalaev, as recommended by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
Cotton has a particularly complex supply chain, meaning that it would be nearly impossible for you, as a consumer, to know if you are buying clothing, towels, or bed sheets made from Turkmen cotton. That is why the Cotton Campaign is urging companies, as a first step, to sign the Turkmen Cotton Pledge, committing to not knowingly sourcing Turkmen cotton. Just this week Nike signed on, so we are making progress, which we could not do without your help!
If you are looking for more ways to get involved with this campaign, check out this link!
Please make sure to sign and share our petition to free journalist Gaspar Matalaev, who was imprisoned and tortured after reporting on Turkmenistan’s forced labor practices in the cotton fields.
Together, the International Labor Rights Forum and Freedom United have received over 84,000 signatures. Help us reach our goal of 100,000 people in support of freedom for Gaspar!