The government of Uzbekistan is forcing famous movie stars, musicians and directors to go out into the fields and harvest cotton. Those who fail to do so are allegedly being told that they risk being blacklisted from their industries, meaning that they would not be able to work in the country in the future.

Several actors and singers have spoken to US-run radio stations to say that they were informed by state owned companies that they must take part. “They were pretty firm,” says one film actor. “They put us on buses, drove us out to the fields and said ‘pick 30 kg [66 pounds] each by lunchtime, and don’t let us down’. They made it clear that anyone who failed to go would miss out when it comes to casting and awards.”

Some artists have been pictured working in the fields over the past few days and it has been reported that many are seeing it as a way to “prove their loyalty” to the country and help out their fellow citizens.