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Cotton Field: the Source of My Happiness

Villager from Zhaosu County, Yili Kazak Autonomous Prefecture Gulixian Abudula

I’m Gulixian Abdullah, a villager in Sa’erkuobu Township, Zhaosu County. A few days ago, H & M company issued an official announcement saying that they will boycott Xinjiang cotton, because it is the product of “forced labor” in Xinjiang. My first reaction on hearing that was can they be more ridiculous?

To make ends meet, I worked as restaurant waitress,temporary worker in the construction site, and porter in the past. Among all this working experiences, what I miss most is picking up cotton. I went to pick up cotton for the first time in 2005, because of the information on the advertisement, which said that cotton-pickers were needed in Wusu and the salary was fair enough. I contacted the boss later and was offered the job.

It was the first time for me to travel so far away from home that I was little anxious. With the passage of a few days, however, I was certain that I had come to the right place to make money. On the cotton field, the boss and cotton-pickers would joke around while picking. He was passionate and frank. I can still remember what he said to us “the wage is decided by the amount of cotton you picked. I shall never force you to pick more than your ability nor will I miscalculate your hard-won money.” The accommodation and diets were free of charge. The dormitories were like standard rooms in hotel. At supper time every day, all the pickers would chat around the dining table, sing songs, dance, and tell jokes. Because of the hot weather, the boss also handed us free wide-sided hats and sun protective clothing; supplied mineral water and watermelon. Once I had a stomachache, the owner immediately sent me to the hospital for treatment and paid all the expenses for me. When the harvest was completed, the owner had a party for us at a local farmer’s restaurant. On the next day, we got our salary and left Wusu. As of today, I still contact with my then working mates and the owner of the cotton field.

Xinjiang’s cotton field is not what H&M depicted where ethnic minorities are “forced” to work. Xinjiang’s cotton is not the product of “forced labor”, but the hard work of people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang. H&M and other foreign enterprises are reaping benefits in China on the one hand and smear China on the other. Please immediately stop your rumors and slanders and get out of China. We do not welcome garbage companies like you!