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Arise joins over 180 organisations demanding an end to brands' complicity in Uyghur forced labour

Updated: Aug 3

Press release by the Coalition to End Forced Labour in the Uyghur Region, endorsed by Arise.



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. [Visit the Coalition End Forced Labour in the Uyghur Region’s website here.] 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 partnerships with 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.”



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

6. AFL-CIO

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 Association)

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 Association)

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

135. STOP THE TRAFFIK

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

145. TERRE DES FEMMES Schweiz

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


Media Contacts:

  • Peter Irwin, Uyghur Human Rights Project (Washington, DC): +1 (646) 906-7722, pirwin@uhrp.org

  • Penelope Kyritsis, Worker Rights Consortium (Washington, DC): +1 (401) 209-5917, penelope.kyritsis@workersrights.org

  • Chloe Cranston, Anti-Slavery International (London): +44 7789 936 383, c.cranston@antislavery.org

  • Johnson Yeung, Clean Clothes Campaign (Hong Kong): +852 6124 5154, johnson-eac@cleanclothes.org

  • Nazly Sobhi Damasio, Global Labor Justice – International Labor Rights Forum, +1 (312) 687-8360, nazly@globallaborjustice.org

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