XINJIANG CAMPS

Uighurs Sent From Camps to Factories, New Report Says

More than 80,000 Uighurs have been sent to work in factories making products for global brands, including Apple and Nike, according to a think tank report.

More than 80,000 Uighurs have been transported across China from their native Xinjiang province to work in factories making products for 83 global brands, including Apple, Nike, Gap and Sony, according to a new report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).

The Canberra-based think tank report says that Uighurs have worked in conditions that “strongly suggest forced labour” in 27 factories across China since their transfer, many of them directly from “re-education centres,” between 2017 and 2019.

“In factories far away from home, [Uighur workers] typically live in segregated dormitories, undergo organised Mandarin and ideological training outside working hours, are subject to constant surveillance, and are forbidden from participating in religious observances,” the report states.

China has incarcerated hundreds of thousands of Muslim Uighurs and other minorities in detention camps as part of a crackdown on expression of cultural, political and religious diversity.

In November, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ China Cables investigation revealed the secret operations manuals for the running of the forced assimilation camps, where detainees are held in prison-like conditions and forced to undergo ideological indoctrination.

China Cables ramped up the international pressure on the Chinese government over the country’s human rights record, with politicians in the U.S. and Europe calling for sanctions and even a television boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

China has repeatedly denied allegations of human rights abuses, dismissing China Cables and other media reports of the Uighurs’ plight as “fake news.”

However, the denials have failed to avert the international spotlight on the issue. Last week the United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet demanded “unfettered access” to the region, after the Chinese government agreed to allow the U.N. to conduct a fact-finding mission in Xinjiang.

The authors of the latest report, which is based on published supplier lists, media reports, and the factories’ claimed suppliers, are calling on China to allow multinational customers to inspect the factories.

“While we are unable to confirm that all employment transfers from Xinjiang are forced, the cases for which adequate detail has been available showcase highly disturbing coercive labour practices consistent with International Labour Organization definitions of forced labour,” the report concluded.

Commenting on the report in The Washington Post, the affected companies contacted variously claimed either to have severed links with the factories concerned or claimed to have no knowledge of the practices

Nike spokeswoman Sandra Carreon-John said the company was committed to upholding international labor standards, saying that its suppliers were “strictly prohibited from using any type of prison, forced, bonded or indentured labor.”

Apple spokesman Josh Rosenstock said the company had not seen the report but it was “dedicated to ensuring that everyone in our supply chain is treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

CHINA CABLES

British lawmakers call for sanctions over Uighur human rights abuses

Oct 14, 2020
Uighur workers at a shoe factory
CHINA CABLES

US moves to ban imports tied to forced Uighur labor in China’s Xinjiang region

Sep 28, 2020
Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar, Xinjiang
CHINA CABLES

‘Huge uptick’ in Chinese propaganda over Uighur camps, report finds

Jul 30, 2020
IMPACT

US sanctions architects of China’s internment camps

Jul 09, 2020
U.S. President Donald Trump.
China Cables

Trump signs Uighur sanctions bill amid Bolton claims, provoking China fury

Jun 23, 2020
Awards

China Cables wins top SPJ prize

Jun 11, 2020
ICIJ is dedicated to ensuring all reports we publish are accurate. If you believe you have found an inaccuracy let us know.