Medical staff from Samarkand is being transported to the cotton fields © UGF 2017

Three doctors of the highest rank have been fired for refusing to pick cotton

The head of the Samarkand district administration has dismissed three doctors of the highest rank for refusing to pick cotton and sending employees to the cotton fields. A member of staff of the district health directorate informed Malohat Eshonqulova about this.

The human rights defenders Malohat Eshonqulova and Elena Urlayeva have witnessed how people from the healthcare and educational establishments in the Samarkand District are being sent to pick cotton on a compulsory basis every day.

Mobilization to the cotton fields in Samarkand © UGF 2017

Mobilization to the cotton fields in Samarkand © UGF 2017

Starting at 6 o’clock in the morning, teachers and medical staff boarded busses in two different areas of the city. The whole process was filmed by human rights activists. But later on that day, police officers arrived, body-searched them and tried to erase everything they had filmed.

Nevertheless, Malohat Eshonqulova managed to save some pictures documenting the mobilization of medical staff to the cotton fields.

Mobilization to the cotton fields in Samarkand © UGF 2017

Mobilization to the cotton fields in Samarkand © UGF 2017

A representative of the district health directorate, whose name will stay anonymous, told the two activists that the head of the Samarkand District administration treated the medical staff very rudely and even threatened them. According to him, the head of Samarkand District administration Shuhrat Jamolov humiliated the district chief physician right in front of his subordinates. Also, three doctors of the highest rank who had refused to pick cotton or to send medical staff to the cotton fields were fired.

“He said that the highly-qualified doctors Ms. Toshpolatova, Ms. Asrorova, head of the maternity department, and Ms. Samadova from the surgery department had to be dismissed immediately. While saying this, he was holding his fist so tightly, it seemed that he would break his fingers. How is that possible? He asked them, why they had refused to send people to the cotton fields, why they had only sent few people and what they had been doing themselves, and then he simply fired them”, said the representative of the healthcare directorate.

Observers say that the cotton policy this year is tougher than in previous years.

On the one hand, the government has just ordered to retrieve teachers, students and medical staff from the cotton fields. On the other hand, staff members of state organizations are still being forced to pick cotton or hire people instead of themselves.

For the first time in the history of Uzbekistan, even trains are involved in the cotton harvest campaign. As the website reports, passenger transportation on the Andijan-Tashkent railway line has been cancelled. The trains are transporting people from the Fergana Valley to other regions of Uzbekistan to pick cotton.

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