Protest rallies in the streets of America have become an image we have gotten used to in the last year, but one this week in New York has not received the same amount of public attention as many others in the United States. On October 4th, thousands of protesters gathered outside the United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York to demand the end of state sponsored forced labour in Turkmenistan’s cotton industry. The demonstrators presented a petition signed by 84,000 people from across the world to urge the Turkmen government to immediately release Gaspar Matalaev.
Through September, Uzbekistan (Uzbek), who exports 10% of the worlds cotton, making up 20% of the country’s total trade output, complete their cotton harvest. Uzbekistan has spent years being accused of both child labour and forced labour abuses during their cotton harvest. Uzbekistan appears to have used state sponsored forced labour, where civil servants such as teachers and doctors, as well as thousands of school children have been forced to be part of the cotton-picking process. Uzbekistan has faced international pressure due to the prevalence of this state sponsored forced labour, and has outwardly shown to try to improve the situation. Due to this, the US Department of Labor (USDOL) has moved to take Uzbekistan off of their Child Labor watch list, but they will remain on the Forced Labor list.
 International Cotton Advisory Committee, ‘Cotton This Week’, https://www.icac.org/cotton_info/publications/samples/weekly_estimates/8february05.pdf (2005)