Corporate giants have been called upon to cut ties with suppliers who have been accused of using China’s Muslim minority Uighur people in “forced labour”. Firms have been accused of “bolstering and benefiting” from exploitation of the group. This includes Nike and Apple.
Nike said it was “conducting ongoing diligence with our suppliers in China to identify and assess potential risks related to employment of Uighur or other ethnic minorities”. It claimed not to have sourced any materials directly from Xinjiang, which is the region home to most of China’s Uighur population. According to the BBC many of the factories involved are also situated in Xinjiang.
Apple meanwhile said it had investigated the claims but had found no evidence of any forced labour on Apple production lines. It said it would continue with monitoring.
However, according to the BBC, reports by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, amongst several other groups, indicate that thousands of Uighurs have been put to work in factories across China. Their working conditions sharply suggesting forced labour. The factories were linked to more than 80 high-profile brands, including Nike, Apple and Gap.
Chloe Cranston, of Anti-Slavery International, said, “Brands and retailers should have left long ago, but they haven’t and that is why this public call to action is important and necessary.” More than 180 organisations are reportedly involved in the pressure campaign against big business.
Umm Muhammed Umar