From a BBT release
Brethren Benefit Trust and its affiliate, Brethren Foundation Funds, on April 4 signed the Turkmen Cotton Pledge to show opposition to unacceptable human rights conditions in Turkmenistan, as the government there has been using forced labor to harvest cotton. Turkmenistan is the 11th-largest exporter of cotton in the world, but produces its commodity by threatening adult citizens with dismissal or salary deductions from their regular jobs if they do not assist with the annual cotton harvest.
“Brethren Benefit Trust has a history and tradition of standing up for human rights,” said BBT president Nevin Dulabaum. “One of our investment screens applies to companies that are egregious violators of human rights regulations, so we did not hesitate to oppose what amounts to modern-day slavery in Turkmenistan. This is one of the ways our organization hopes to influence an end to inhumane products and practices across the globe.”
In addition to the pledge, the Responsible Sourcing Network, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending human rights abuses, is asking that partners support the newly formed YESS: Yarn Ethically and Sustainably Sourced. YESS facilitates a means for cotton industry workers to avoid distribution of materials that are gathered using forced labor.
Organizations that sign the letter are playing an important role in the work toward eradicating this inhumane practice. A similar pledge created for Uzbekistan has already helped motivate the government to acknowledge the presence of forced labor, and take steps toward ending this practice in its country.
For more about the ministry of Brethren Benefit Trust see www.cobbt.org .