Database Entry: Uyghurs for sale: ‘Re-education’, forced labour and surveillance beyond Xinjiang
Internment Forced Labor Restrictions on movement Destruction of Language

Uyghurs for sale: ‘Re-education’, forced labour and surveillance beyond Xinjiang

March 01, 2020
Excerpt from this Article Read the Full Article

The Chinese government has facilitated the mass transfer of Uyghur and other ethnic minority citizens from the far west region of Xinjiang to factories across the country. Under conditions that strongly suggest forced labour, Uyghurs are working in factories that are in the supply chains of at least 82 well-known global brands in the technology, clothing and automotive sectors, including Apple, BMW, Gap, Huawei, Nike, Samsung, Sony and Volkswagen.

This report estimates that more than 80,000 Uyghurs were transferred out of Xinjiang to work in factories across China between 2017 and 2019, and some of them were sent directly from detention camps. The estimated figure is conservative and the actual figure is likely to be far higher. In factories far away from home, they typically live in segregated dormitories, undergo organised Mandarin and ideological training outside working hours, are subject to constant surveillance, and are forbidden from participating in religious observances. Numerous sources, including government documents, show that transferred workers are assigned minders and have limited freedom of movement.

27 factories in nine Chinese provinces . . . are using Uyghur labour transferred from Xinjiang since 2017. Those factories claim to be part of the supply chain of 82 well-known global brands . . . It is extremely difficult for Uyghurs to refuse or escape these work assignments . . . In addition to constant surveillance, the threat of arbitrary detention hangs over minority citizens who refuse their government-sponsored work assignments . . . local governments and private brokers are paid a price per head by the Xinjiang provincial government to organise the labour assignments.

A factory in eastern China that manufactures shoes for US company Nike is equipped with watchtowers, barbed-wire fences and police guard boxes. The Uyghur workers, unlike their Han counterparts, are reportedly unable to go home for holidays.

In another eastern province factory claiming to supply sportswear multinationals Adidas and Fila, evidence suggests that Uyghur workers were transferred directly from one of Xinjiang’s ‘re-education camps’.