Help End forced Labour in the Uyghur Region

For a couple of years now, China is known to repress the Uyghur Muslim community in the western province of Xinjiang. Millions of Uyghur Muslims are known to be detained in concentration camps, factories, and prisons.

Help End forced Labour in the Uyghur Region

Here’s in-depth information about what can be done to end forced labour and save Uyghur Muslim minorities from facing the tragic situation. 

What is Uyghur Muslim Forced Labour?

Uyghur forced labor is a critical issue. CCP (Chinese Communist Party) is using Uyghur Muslims to pick cotton in Turkistan. The Uyghurs in the guise of vocational skills and re-education are forced to work in camps under compulsion. 

Inappropriate coercive techniques are implemented by reordering education courses for people who refused detention in re-educational camps. 

Who are Uyghur

Today, Uyghurs mostly live in the Uyghur Autonomous Region of Xinjiang, however, migration to the territory did not take place until the second half of the 9th century. In ancient times, the Uyghurs were considered members of the Turkic race, which had a great influence on the relations of the Chinese empires. Not only Chinese sources contain information about the Uyghurs, but also Arabic, Persian and European sources collected in the Middle Ages. Uyghur-language records are also available, but they are mostly fragmentary hand-made inscriptions

The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the Republic of China was officially established on October 1, 1955, replacing the earlier name Xinjiang Province. After the split between the government of the USSR and China, USSR support for the local separatist movement strengthened again. Factors such as the massive state-sponsored migration of Han Chinese from the 1950s to the 1970s, government policies promoting Chinese cultural unity and punishing expressions of Uyghur identity, and harsh reactions to separatism contributed to tensions between the Uyghurs and the state police and Chinese.

After the announcement of the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the creation of new, independent states, the Uyghurs also began to demand the separation of Xinjiang from China. With the growing separatist movements, at the beginning of the 21st century there were also terrorist activities aimed at the Han people. Separatist tendencies this time were combined with radical Islamism.

End Uyghur Muslims Forced Labour

The End Uyghur Forced Labour Coalition is a group of more than 100 organizations fighting together to stop the persuasiveness of forced labour in various industries. Uyghur forced labour exists in all the industries that operate in the region. 

In the mid of 2020, the Coalition launched a ground-breaking law, called Call to Action, to seek commitment from retailers and brands to: 

  • Stop sourcing cotton and other raw material such as textiles, yarn, etc. from the Uyghur region. This also includes the sourcing of finished products. In China, most factories use yarn and cotton to manufacture finished goods across the country, so this law could make a major impact on various textile industries. 
  • Ban any supplier units or factories that are located outside of the region from using Turkic, Uyghur, or other Muslim people supplied through the government forced labour scheme. 
  • Cut ties with production units and companies involved in forced labour. It includes the establishments that have an operation in the regions and are known to accept subsidies or government-supplied labour to handle various operations. 

Why the Fashion Industry is the Most Targeted?

Uyghur region is known to produce more than 20% world’s cotton. Since China is the world’s largest producer and exporter of cotton, yarn, and other textile products, most of these raw materials are produced in the facilities in the Uyghur region with forced labour implications.

More to it, it can be said that in the global garment market, 1 in 5 cotton apparel is produced with the involvement of Uyghur forced labour. This leads to the risk of ethical and regulatory violence by the fashion industry. And hence, the fashion industry is the most targeted and talked about when it comes to forced labour involving Muslim minorities. 

However, the risk of Uyghur forced labour is not limited to the fashion industry other major industries are also involved. Sectors such as electronics, tomatoes, paper pulp, and polysilicon are also embattled. The Coalition calls upon all industries to take effective measures mentioned in the law. 

Will the Coalition Help to Make any Difference?

Uyghurs who have the courage to exercise freedom of speech demand that all major brands and retailers must exit the region. They demand that the business entities must comply with each of the clauses and phrases outlined in the Coalition’s enforcement law.

More than 70 Uyghur groups, to the day, have endorsed the sections and articles mentioned in Call to Action. These groups act as reliable representatives and spokespersons of all the victims affected in the Uyghur region. Businesses and governments must carefully listen to the voice of these groups to understand what they want. 

Businesses share a responsibility to follow strict guidelines to prohibit forced labour and respect human rights throughout the supply chain. There are standards set forth by the UN Guiding Principles of Business and Human Rights. 

These standards maintain that when brands and business entities lack control to leverage practices that improve conditions, they must exit commercial relationships. Organizations that fight Uyghur forced labour practices argue that the goods produced in the Uyghur region must be considered tainted. 

Many non-profit organizations are launching movements to make a considerable change to the lives of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities. One major step that can help stop forced labour in the Uyghur region is banning products that are imported in large volumes from the factories operating in this region.

China's political re-education camps for members of minorities are huge facilities for hundreds of thousands of people. Therefore, in order to keep inmates in check, a technologically advanced system of 24-hour monitoring and supervision of prisoners is used. They also carry out activities against the Uyghur who are massively indoctrinated in them.

Uyghur forced labour is not a business-perpetrated issue, it’s government-instated. Law-enforcement organizations must take strict actions to forbid forced labour across the country.