180+ Orgs Demand Apparel Brands End Complicity in Uyghur Forced Labour

Today, 72 Uyghur rights groups are joined by over 100 civil society organisations and labour unions from around the world in calling on apparel brands and retailers to stop using forced labour in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (“Uyghur Region”), known to local people as East Turkistan, and end their complicity in the Chinese government’s human rights abuses.

The groups have issued a call to action seeking brand commitments to cut all ties with suppliers implicated in forced labour and end all sourcing from the Uyghur Region, from cotton to finished garments, within twelve months.

“Now is the time for real action from brands, governments and international bodies – not empty declarations. To end the slavery and horrific abuses of Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other Turkic Muslim peoples by the Chinese government, brands must ensure their supply chains are not linked to the atrocities against these people. The only way brands can ensure they are not profiting from the exploitation is by exiting the region and ending relationships with suppliers propping up this Chinese government system,” said Jasmine O’Connor OBE, CEO of Anti-Slavery International.

The Chinese government has rounded up an estimated 1 to 1.8 million Uyghurs and other Turkic and Muslim people in detention and forced-labour camps, the largest interment of an ethnic and religious minority since World War II. The atrocities in the Uyghur Region – including torture, forced separation of families, and the compulsory sterilisation of Uyghur women – are widely recognised to be crimes against humanity. A central element of the government’s strategy to dominate the Uyghur people is a vast system of forced labour, affecting factories and farms across the region and China, both inside and beyond the internment camps.

Gulzira Auelkhan, a Kazakh woman who was formerly detained in an internment camp and then subjected to forced labour in a factory said: “The clothes factory was no different from the [internment] camp. There were police, cameras, you couldn’t go anywhere.”

Despite global outrage at the abuses, leading apparel brands are bolstering and benefiting from the government’s assault on the peoples of the region. Brands continue to source millions of tons of cotton and yarn from the Uyghur Region. Roughly 1 in 5 cotton garments sold globally contains cotton and/or yarn from the Uyghur Region; it is virtually certain that many of these goods are tainted with forced labour. Moreover, apparel brands maintain lucrative partnershipswith Chinese corporations implicated in forced labour, including those that benefit from the forced labour transfer of victims from the Uyghur Region to work in factories across China.

“Global brands need to ask themselves how comfortable they are contributing to a genocidal policy against the Uyghur people. These companies have somehow managed to avoid scrutiny for complicity in that very policy – this stops today,” said Omer Kanat, Executive Director of the Uyghur Human Rights Project.

The supply chains of most major apparel brands and retailers are tainted by Uyghur forced labour. Major corporations claim not to tolerate forced labour by their suppliers, but have offered no credible explanation as to how they can meet this standard while continuing to do business in a region where forced labour is rife.

“Forced labourers in the Uyghur Region face vicious retaliation if they tell the truth about their circumstances. This makes due diligence through labour inspections impossible and virtually guarantees that any brand sourcing from the Uyghur Region is using forced labour,” said Scott Nova, Executive Director of the Worker Rights Consortium.

“Given the lack of leverage and the inability to prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts, apparel brands and retailers must take the necessary steps to end business relationships connected to the Uyghur Region in order to fulfil their responsibility to respect human rights as defined by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights,” said David Schilling, Senior Program Director of
Human Rights at the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.

“If responsible business conduct has any meaning, it requires fashion brands to act when independent journalists, United Nations human rights experts, and human rights NGOs expose grave human rights abuses,” said Jennifer (JJ) Rosenbaum, Executive Director of Global Labor Justice - International Labor Rights Forum. “Business and human rights principles require fashion brands to stop using cotton and labour from the Uyghur Region in their global supply chains.”

Media Contacts

  • Peter Irwin, Uyghur Human Rights Project (Washington, DC): +1 (646) 906-7722, [email protected]
  • Penelope Kyritsis, Worker Rights Consortium (Washington, DC): +1 (401) 209-5917, [email protected]
  • Chloe Cranston, Anti-Slavery International (London): +44 7789 936 383, [email protected]
  • Johnson Yeung, Clean Clothes Campaign (Hong Kong): +852 6124 5154, [email protected]
  • Nazly Sobhi Damasio, Global Labor Justice – International Labor Rights Forum, +1 (312) 687-8360, [email protected]

More information

Groups are seeking the following commitments from bands and retailers:

  • Stop sourcing cotton, yarn, textiles, and finished products from the Uyghur Region. Since cotton and yarn from the region is used to make textiles and finished goods across China and in numerous other countries, this requires brands to direct all factories that supply them with textiles and finished goods not to use cotton or yarn from the Uyghur region.
  • Cut ties with companies implicated in forced labour – those that have operations in the Uyghur region and have accepted government subsidies and/or government-supplied labour at these operations. Examples include: Hong Kong-based Esquel Group and Chinese companies based outside of the Uyghur Region, such as Huafu Fashion Co., Lu Thai Textile Co., Jinsheng Group (parent company of Litai Textiles/Xingshi), Youngor Group, and Shandong Ruyi Technology Group Co.
  • Prohibit any supplier factories located outside of the Uyghur Region from using Uyghurs or Turkic or Muslim workers supplied through the Chinese government’s forced labour transfer scheme.
  • Note: Taking the actions listed above does not preclude brands from sourcing clothing from elsewhere in China, as long as cotton or yarn from the Uyghur Region is not used to make the clothing and as long as suppliers are not using forced Uyghur and other Turkic and Muslim labour.

Virtually the entire apparel industry is tainted by forced Uyghur and Turkic Muslim labour. Credible investigations and reports by the Associated Press, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Axios, Congressional-Executive Commission on China, Global Legal Action Network, and the Wall Street Journal have linked the following apparel brands and retailers to specific cases of Uyghur forced labour:

• Abercrombie & Fitch
• Adidas
• Amazon
• Badger Sport (Founder Sport Group)
• C&A (Cofra Holding AG)
• Calvin Klein (PVH)
• Carter’s
• Cerruti 1881 (Trinity Limited)
• Costco
• Cotton On
• Dangerfield (Factory X Pty Ltd)
• Esprit (Esprit Holdings Ltd.)
• Fila (FILA KOREA Ltd)
• Gap
• H&M
• Hart Schaffner Marx (Authentic Brands Group)
• Ikea (Inter IKEA Systems B.V.)
• Jack & Jones (Bestseller)
• Jeanswest (Harbour Guidance Pty Ltd)
• L.L.Bean
• Lacoste (Maus Freres)
• Li-Ning
• Marks & Spencer
• Mayor
• Muji (Ryohin Keikaku Co., Ltd.)
• Nike
• Patagonia
• Polo Ralph Lauren (Ralph Lauren Corporation)
• Puma
• Skechers
• Summit Resource International (Caterpillar)
• Target Australia (Wesfarmers)
• Tommy Hilfiger (PVH)
• Uniqlo (Fast Retailing)
• Victoria’s Secret (L Brands)
• Woolworths (Woolworth Corporation, LLC.)
• Zara (Inditex)
• Zegna

About the Coalition to End Forced Labour in the Uyghur Region

The Coalition to End Forced Labour in the Uyghur Region is a coalition of civil society organisations and
trade unions united to end state-sponsored forced labour and other egregious human rights abuses against people from the Uyghur Region in China, known to local people as East Turkistan.

The coalition is calling on leading brands and retailers to ensure that they are not supporting or benefiting from the pervasive and extensive forced labour of the Uyghur population and other Turkic and Muslim-majority peoples, perpetrated by the Chinese government. Right now, there is near certainty that any brand sourcing apparel, textiles, yarn or cotton from the Uyghur Region is profiting from human rights violations, including forced labour, both in the Uyghur Region and more broadly throughout China.

We are asking brands and retailers to exit the Uyghur Region at every level of their supply chain, from cotton to finished products, to prevent the use of forced labour of Uyghurs and other groups in other facilities, and to end relationships with suppliers supporting the forced labour system. Brands and retailers must take each of these steps in order to fulfil their corporate responsibility obligations to respect human rights as defined in international principles such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

The coalition urges national governments to strengthen and enforce existing laws prohibiting trade in goods produced using forced labour, and to adopt and implement binding laws requiring human rights due diligence in supply chains. The coalition is further committed to working with multilateral organisations like the ILO and OECD to use their mechanisms to end forced labour in the Uyghur Region as well as forced labour and human trafficking of people from these communities.

We call on governments, MSIs, brands, and other stakeholders to join us in challenging this abusive system and together build the economic and political pressure on the Chinese government to end forced labour in the Uyghur Region.

Endorsers of the Call to Action

1. ABVV-FGTB (General Labour Federation of Belgium)
2. achACT (Actions Consumers Workers)
3. ACV-CSC (Confederation of Christian Trade Unions)
4. ACV-CSC METEA (Metal and Textile Industries Trade Union)
5. Advocates for Public Interest Law
7. Alberta Uyghur Association
8. altraQualità
9. Anti-Slavery International
10. Arisa Foundation
11. Arise Foundation
12. Arzu Uigurischer Kuturverein e.V. (Azru Uyghur Cultural Association)
13. Asian Solidarity Council for Freedom and Democracy
14. Association des Ouïghours de France (Association of French Uyghurs)
15. Athenai Institute
16. Australia Tibet Council
17. Australian Council of Trade Unions
18. Australian East Turkestan Association
19. Australian Uyghur Association
20. Australian Uyghur Tangritagh Women’s Association
21. Austria Uyghur Association
22. Azzad Asset Management
23. Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers’ Federation
24. Belgium Uyghur Association
25. Bishkek Human Rights Committee
26. Campagna Abiti Puliti
27. Campaign for Uyghurs
28. Canada East Turkestan Union
29. Central Eurasian Studies Society
30. China Aid Association
31. China Labor Watch
32. China Labour Bulletin
33. Christian Solidarity Worldwide
34. Citizen Power Initiatives for China
35. Clean Clothes Campaign
36. Collectif Ethique sur l’étiquette
37. Comité de Apoyo al Tíbet (Tibet Support Committee)
38. CORE Coalition
39. Corporate Accountability Lab
40. Covenants Watch
41. Dabindu Collective
42. Daniye Uyghur Jama’itining Wekili (Denmark Uyghur Association)
43. Doğu Türkistan Basin ve Medya Derneği (East Turkistan Press and Media Association)
44. Doğu Türkistan Gençlik Derneği (East Turkistan Youth Association)
45. Doğu Türkistan Kültür Merkezi Duisburg (East Turkistan Cultural Center Duisburg)
46. Doğu Türkistan Maarif ve Dayanimsa Derneği (East Turkistan Education and Solidarity
47. Doğu Türkistan Muhacirlar Derneği (East Turkistan Immigrants Association)
48. Doğu Türkistan Nuzugum Kültür ve Aile Derneği (Nuzugum Culture and Family Centre)
49. Doğu Türkistan Spor ve Gelişim Derneği (East Turkistan Sports and Development
50. Doğu Türkistan Yeni Nesil Hareketi Derneği (East Turkistan New Generation Movement)
51. Dutch Uyghur Human Rights Foundation
52. Dutch Uyghur, Tibet, Mongol People Cooperation Organization
53. East Turkestan Union in Europe
54. East Turkistan Art & Science Institute
55. East Turkistan Association of Canada
56. East Turkistan Cultural and Solidarity Association
57. East Turkistan Foundation
58. East Turkistan Human Rights Watch Association
59. East Turkistan Information Center
60. East Turkistan National Council
61. East Turkistan Union in Europe
62. Eastern Turkistan Uyghur Association in the Netherlands
63. FAIR (Fair Trade Cooperative)
64. Fair Action
65. Fashion Roundtable
66. FGTB - CG (General Union Belgium)
67. FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights )
68. Formosan Association for Public Affairs
69. FOS (Solidarity for the socialist movement in Flanders)
70. Free Tibet
71. Freedom Fund
72. Freedom United
73. Garment Labour Union
74. Gender Alliance for Development Center
75. Global Aktion
76. Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women
77. Global Labor Justice - International Labor Rights Forum
78. Global Legal Action Network
79. God Bless HK
80. Grupo de Apoio ao Tibete (Tibet Support Group)
81. H&M Hong Kong Staff Union
82. Hong Kong Global Connect
83. HOPE not hate
84. Human Rights in China
85. Human Rights Now
86. Human Rights Watch
87. Humanity Beyond Borders
88. Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility
89. International Campaign for Tibet
90. International Commission of Jurists
91. International Dalit Solidarity Network
92. International Service for Human Rights
93. International Trade Union Confederation
94. Isa Yusuf Alptekin Foundation
95. Islamic Information & Services Foundation
96. Ittipak Uyghur Society of the Kyrgyz Republic
97. Japan Uyghur Association
98. Japan Uyghur Union
99. Jewish World Watch
100. Justice For All
101. Kazakhstan National Culture Center
102. Keep Taiwan Free
103. Korean House for International Solidarity
104. Labour Behind the Label
105. Lantos Foundation for Human Rights & Justice
106. Malaysia Consultative Council of Islamic Organizations
107. Maquila Solidarity Network
108. Mavi Hilal
109. Minaret Foundation
110. Movimento Consumatori (Consumer Movement)
111. Netwerk Bewust Verbruiken (Network for Conscious Consumption)
112. Norwegian Uyghur Committee (NUK)
113. Open Gate La Strada Macedonia
114. Pakistan Ömer Uyghur Foundation
115. Peace Catalyst International
116. Public Citizen
117. Qutatqu Bilik Institute
118. Rafto Foundation for Human Rights
119. Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
120. Religious Freedom Institute
121. René Cassin
122. Responsible Sourcing Network
123. Robert F Kennedy Human Rights
124. Satuq Bughrahan Science and Culture Center
125. SAVE (Social Awareness and Voluntary Education)
126. Save Tibet
127. Science, Education and Research Foundation
128. SHARE (Shareholder Association for Research & Education)
129. Shukr Foundation
130. Society for Threatened Peoples
131. Society Union of Uyghur National Association
132. Solidarity China
133. Stand with Hong Kong
134. Stefanus Alliance International
136. Südwind
137. SÜDWIND-Institut
138. Suomen Ita Turkestan Yhdistys (Finland East Turkistan Association)
139. Sweden East Turkistan Education Association
140. Sweden Mahmut Kashgeri Mother Tongue School
141. Sweden Uyghur Education Association
142. T’ruah
143. Taiwan Association for Human Rights
144. Taklimakan Islamiska Kultur Center
146. The Rights Practice
147. Tibet Justice Center
148. Tibet Support Group
149. Tibetan Youth Association in Europe
150. Trades Union Congress
151. Uighur U.K. Association
152. Uigurischer Veren Schweiz (Swiss Uyghur Association)
153. Uiguriska Utbildingsföreningen (Uyghur Education Association)
154. UK Uyghur Community
155. United Students Against Sweatshops
156. Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization
157. Unseen UK
158. US Tibet Committee
159. Uyghur Academy
160. Uyghur Academy America
161. Uyghur Academy Australia
162. Uyghur Academy Europe
163. Uyghur Aid
164. Uyghur American Association
165. Uyghur Association of Victoria
166. Uyghur Collective
167. Uyghur Democracy and Human Rights Center
168. Uyghur Forum
169. Uyghur Human Rights Project
170. Uyghur Media Center
171. Uyghur Mothers’ Union in Germany
172. Uyghur Radio TV
173. Uyghur Rally
174. Uyghur Relief Fund
175. Uyghur Research Institute
176. Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project
177. Uyghur Solidarity Campaign
178. Uyghur Support Group Netherlands
179. Uyghur Transitional Justice Database
180. Uyghur Youth Union in Kazakhstan
181. Uzbekistan Uyghur Culture Center
182. Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation
183. Victoria Hong Kong Tertiary Student Association
184. Walk Free
185. We Social Movements
186. Worker Rights Consortium
187. World Uyghur Congress

Visit the Coalition End Forced Labour in the Uyghur Region’s website here: https://enduyghurforcedlabour.org/