Suspend loans tainted by Uzbek forced labour -

Suspend loans tainted by Uzbek forced labor


Drugged, beaten and detained by police – this was the fate of Elena Urlaeva when she dared to document state-sponsored slavery in the cotton fields of Uzbekistan.1

In Uzbekistan, the whole country suffers because of the government’s dependence on revenue from the cotton harvest. The government operate the world’s largest state-run system of forced labor where activists like Elena are brutally repressed, pensioners are being forced to pick cotton or submit 50% of their pension, and education and health care are undermined for two months every year due to the mass mobilisation of teachers and doctors.2

What’s worse is that there are international actors helping Uzbekistan keep its dirty secret – including the World Bank. The World Bank is an international institution that provides loans for developing countries. Right now they are funding projects totalling $500 million in Uzbekistan that are documented to be using forced labor.3

The good news is that the World Bank signed a contract agreeing to suspend loans if evidence of forced labor was uncovered.4 Now we need your help to hold them to this promise.

This year, as the latest announcements calling “everyone to the cotton fields” were heard echoing around the countryside of Uzbekistan, we’re planning to hit the Uzbek government where it hurts – its pocket.5

By calling on the World Bank to account for its actions in propagating Uzbekistan’s forced labor regime, we’re showing that the international community will not accept or fund state-sanctioned forced labor. But without huge public pressure, the World Bank may turn a blind eye – please don’t let this happen:

Sign our petition now and help put an end to forced labor in Uzbekistan.

Campaign updates

March 2016: Alongside the Cotton Campaign, ILRF and Anti-Slavery International, we held a rally outside the World Bank Headquarters in Washington D.C. and handed in 136,109 signatures to World Bank officials. Although the World Bank formally condemned the use of forced labor upon receipt of our petition, it has yet to suspend its loans to Uzbekistan. However, this campaign was a crucial first step in the process and has helped get us one step closer. Thank you for being part of the global anti-slavery movement and standing up for the rights of the Uzbek people.

December 2015: We joined our partner, the Cotton Campaign, in a protest outside the World Bank headquarters in Washington D.C. We projected a showcase of striking images and videos of Uzbek slavery onto the side of the Bank’s building.

This Campaign made an impact with 108,068 supporters!

Please read our field report with summary and outcome


Latest Activity

  • Brian M. Canada
  • Maria Dolores D. Spain
  • Iara Z. Brazil
  • Nasthan K. Greece
  • Sheila P. Australia

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Our partner in this campaign:

Cotton Campaign Logo

Cotton Campaign

The Cotton Campaign is a coalition of human rights organizations, trade unions, socially responsible investors and business associations united to end forced labor of children and adults in the cotton industry in Uzbekistan. Since 2007, the Cotton Campaign has advocated with governments, companies and investors to use their leverage to end this continuous and systematic human rights violation. Its advocacy has contributed to key steps towards securing fundamental labor rights for Uzbek and Turkmen citizens.

Rotarian Action Group Against Slavery

The Rotarian Action Group Against Slavery (RAGAS) is an independent action arm in the family of Rotary International. The Group’s aim are two-fold: to raise awareness of slavery and human trafficking and to take action to protect people against slavery and its consequences. RAGAS looks to provide information about, and promote ways for its members to engage and support anti-slavery and human trafficking projects, programmes and campaigns.

International Labor Rights Forum

International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) is a human rights organization that advocates for workers globally. It holds global corporations accountable for labor rights violations in their supply chains, advances policies and laws that protect workers, and strengthens workers’ ability to advocate for their rights. ILRF works with trade unions, faith-based organizations, and community groups to support workers and their families.

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