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Slaves of the “White Gold”

Exhibition at Freie Universität Berlin on Child Labor in the Cotton Fields of Uzbekistan

№ 255/2010 from Aug 04, 2010

The exhibition “Harvest Time – Forced Child Labor in the Cotton Fields of Uzbekistan” in the University Library of Freie Universität is showing photographs by the Berlin-based photographer Thomas Grabka. The exhibition was created in cooperation with the Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights (UGF). The director of the UGF is the journalist and human rights activist Umida Niyazova. The exhibition will be on display until September17.

Uzbekistan is one of the world’s top cotton-exporting countries. Ninety percent of the raw cotton in Uzbekistan is still picked by hand. For the arduous harvest the government of this Central Asian republic recruits mostly children and teenagers. They often work under extreme conditions and are paid little or nothing. The exhibition at Freie Universität illuminates the background of the situation in Uzbekistan, presents international efforts to redress the situation as well as current developments, and also points out room for maneuver and possible alternatives.

Thomas Grabka has been working since 1992 as a freelance photojournalist for national and international media, including Spiegel, Die Zeit, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Time Magazine, or El Mundo. His regional focus is Central Asia, the Middle East, and North, Central, and West Africa. He has visited Uzbekistan several times. The photographs on display here were shown for the first time in 2004 in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent.

Umida Niyazova is from Uzbekistan. A journalist and human rights activist, she is currently living in Germany, where she met Filippa von Stackelberg, a student at Freie Universität. Together, in 2009 they founded the Uzbek German Forum (UGF), a German-based NGO aimed at improving the human rights situation in Uzbekistan.

Further Information

Time and Place

  • “Erntezeit” Exhibition, Foyer, Universitätsbibliothek
    Garystr. 39, 14195 Berlin, through September 17, 2010
    Open hours: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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