Stop Funding Projects That Use Forced Labor

Girl picking cotton

Target: World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim

Goal: Cut off funding for state-sponsored projects found to use forced labor in farming and construction.

Multiple journalists have documented cases of forced labor in Uzbekistan, which is using $500 million in loans from the World Bank to fund projects that are made possible by this slavery. Some of these journalists were then arrested, abused, and imprisoned for this documentation. Most recently, Elena Urlaeva was drugged, beaten, and strip searched by the Uzbekistan police for interviewing students who were forced to pick cotton for the government.

The World Bank signed a contract saying that it would suspend all loans to a nation if evidence of forced labor was found. Evidence has been cropping up for years, yet the World Bank is still giving Uzbekistan money, effectively demonstrating that it considers modern-day slavery to be acceptable.

The World Bank apparently thinks that it can get away with turning a blind eye to clear, nation-wide forced labor as the government calls “everyone to the cotton fields,” threatening to take 50 percent of people’s pensions if they refuse to pick cotton for free. By speaking up, the international community can pressure this global conglomerate to abide by the contract they signed and punish countries that use state-sponsored slavery. Sign our petition to demand that they suspect all loans to Uzbekistan until all forced labor stops.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Kim,

You’re currently loaning around $500 million to Uzbekistan for various government projects. What you should know by now is that many of these projects involve forced labor. Multiple journalists have risked their safety and been arrested and abused in order to expose evidence of forced labor in the country, including the practice of taking 50 percent of people’s pensions if they refuse to pick cotton for free.

The World Bank signed a contract agreeing to suspend all loans to any country if evidence of the use of forced labor surfaced. There has been plenty of evidence of slavery coming out of Uzbekistan. We will not allow you to turn a blind eye to this evidence for the sake of your bottom line.

You made a commitment to stand against modern day slavery. By ignoring the years of evidence of forced labor in Uzbekistan, you’re effectively saying that you condone this practice. We, the human rights activists of the world, demand that you immediately follow through with your contractual obligations and suspend all loans to Uzbekistan until all use of state-sponsored forced labor is ended throughout the country.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Claude Renault

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