At the weekend, lots of us watched with amazement and disgust as the Chinese Ambassador to the UK watched, and then dismissed, footage of shackled Uyghur prisoners being loaded onto trains. We cannot look away as this outrage proceeds.
At HOPE not hate, we want to take action. A lot of us feel powerless, a long way away, not knowing how to make a difference. But there are actions we can take. Earlier today, I wrote to HOPE not hate supporters to say that I’m writing to the CEOs of firms accused of using forced Uyghur labour in their Chinese factories. Read the letter below, then add your name to my letter.
On the 17th September 2019 a video was uploaded to YouTube of drone footage taken in the Chinese province of Xinjiang. In the footage you can see hundreds of detainees, handcuffed and blindfolded, being led away into trains.
The detainees are not criminals. They are not prisoners of war. They are Uyghurs – a minority ethnic group native to Xinjiang who are being systematically persecuted by the Chinese Government.
In the past three years more than one million Uyghur people have been interned in indoctrination camps. Former prisoners have spoken of physical as well as psychological torture in the camps. Entire families have been ‘disappeared’, and journalists have been told of detainees who have been tortured physically and mentally.
It is nothing more than an attempt by the Chinese Government to strip an entire people of their language, culture, religious beliefs and traditions. It is an affront to human rights, and each of us has a duty to do whatever needs to be done to stop it.
Instead, a number of massive brands have been using the interned Uyghurs as workers in their factories. As many as 80,000 of the Uyghur people have been transferred to factories across China that force them to work while denying their basic human rights.
Among the brands using this forced labour are household names like Nike, Adidas, Puma, Fila, BMW, Jaguar and Apple. That means that the clothes, cars and technology you use every day could have been made by a Uygher person forced into doing so.
This week I will be writing to the CEOs of the seven brands I mentioned above asking them to urgently clarify their role in the internment and forced labour of the Uyghur people.
I want you to add your name to that letter. Together we can change this – we can make a difference and bring an end to the vile treatment of the Uyghur people.