On October 16, 2012, 18-year old Navruz Muyzinov was only trying to help his mother, but feeling unwell part way through the day he decided to leave his post picking cotton in a field in Shahrisabaz, Uzbekistan, run by South Korean company Daewoo International. Navruz was stopped by police officers on his way back home who beat him to death for not completing his daily cotton quota. Unfortunately, his story is only one of 141 other signatories in a letter put forth to Nike to follow other major companies like H&M, Eileen Fisher, and The Limited and end its supply chain ties with Daewoo International.
OregonLive.com and the International Labor Rights Forum jointly presented the open letter on their websites calling on Nike to respect the 141 signatories that are only a fraction of the citizenry that has been threatened, harassed, tortured, or imprisoned by the oppressive Uzbek regime under dictator Islam Karimov. The Uzbek regime has been propped up by rogue companies like Daewoo, which is profiting from the forced labor of children, teachers, public servants, and even private sector employees picking cotton in awful conditions.
Daewoo is not new to human rights abuses, and Nike's decision to be knowingly do business with such a hateful enterprise is abhorrent. Nike, which promised to stop buying the Uzbek cotton in January, has refused repeated calls to remove Daewoo International from its supply chain entirely, claiming it only buys synthetic materials. We still live in a world where slavery is rampant, and the companies that can have an impact on tamping down on it are oftentimes the cause of their continued existence.
What are your thoughts? Comment below, discuss with me @shwetika, or check out this infographic on the state of modern-day slavery.