Coalition to End Uyghur Forced Labour to Host Panel Drawing Urgent Attention to Human Rights Crisis in Uyghur Region of China

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Experts Will Outline Steps Needed to End Corporate Complicity in Uyghur Forced Labour in China

BRUSSELS – The Coalition to End Uyghur Forced Labour (the Coalition) is hosting a public panel at the European Parliament in Brussels on Tuesday, 10 May, to call attention to severe human rights abuses being committed against Uyghurs in China, and the corporations profiting off these abuses. As millions of Uyghurs are currently being detained by Chinese authorities and held in forced labour camps in the Uyghur Region, a panel of experts will convene to discuss how corporations must be held accountable for ensuring their supply chains do not include Uyghur forced labour. 

Speakers will focus on how Europe can end the risk of consumer and corporate complicity in forced labour when products produced in the Uyghur Region enter the EU market. Legislation like the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA), which was recently passed in the U.S., is crucially needed to regulate major European corporations like Inditex and Hugo Boss that utilise materials from the Uyghur Region despite the clear implications for Uyghur human rights. Chinese authorities rely on the patronage of these companies to embolden them in their campaign to strip Uyghurs of their freedom and rights. The panel will feature Uyghur community members and advocates with the Coalition, as well as members of the European Parliament, highlighting the human rights violations faced by Uyghurs and sharing perspectives on the need for corporate action and dedicated legislation on forced labour.

During the event, speakers will reflect on encouraging progress made recently, including the G7 governments’ joint commitments in June and October 2021 to address state-sponsored forced labour of targeted ethnic-religious groups, and the passage of the UFLPA in December. Coalition members will celebrate these achievements nearly two years after the launch of their Call to Action, which has a growing number of companies committed to removing their supply chains from the Uyghur Region. They will call on companies in the EU to sign onto the Call to Action and stand against Uyghur forced labour. The event will also feature an announcement by Coalition members about the next phase of their work to end corporate complicity in the atrocities being committed against Uyghurs in China. 

EVENT DETAILS: 

WHEN: Tuesday, 10 May, from 17.00 to 18.00 CET

WHERE: European Parliament, 60 rue Wiertz / Wiertzstraat 60, B-1047 (Room PHS 7C050 – SPAAK Building)

WHO: Bernard Guetta, Member of the European Parliament
Salima Yenbou, Member of the European Parliament 

Samuel Cogolati, Member of the Belgian Parliament

Jewher Ilham, human rights advocate and daughter of 2019 Sakharov prize laureate Ilham Tohti

Chloe Cranston, Business and Human Rights Manager, Anti-Slavery International

Moderated by: Koen Stoop, EU Policy Coordinator, World Uyghur Congress

HOW: If you do not already have a badge for entry to European Parliament, please fill out this form to register for the event (required for accreditation to the European Parliament).

Background on Uyghur Forced Labour

An estimated 1 million to 1.8 million Uyghurs and other Turkic and Muslim-majority peoples are currently held in mass arbitrary detention; many are forced to work in factories in the Uyghur Region and across China that produce goods sold all over the world. Up to 20% of all cotton-based products and up to 97% of all polysilicon-based solar panels worldwide are at high risk of being tainted with Uyghur forced labour.

The Coalition calls on leading companies to ensure they are not supporting or benefiting from the extensive forced labour of the Uyghur population and to exit the Uyghur Region. The Coalition also urges national governments to strengthen and enforce existing laws prohibiting trade in goods produced using forced labour. 

In recent years, an increasing number of parliamentarians in the EU have taken a stand to draw attention to the human rights abuses faced by the Uyghur population. These officials have raised how Europe risks being complicit in forced labour if it continues to allow products produced in the Uyghur Region and in factories across China employing forced labour transfers from the Uyghur Region to enter the EU market.

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 Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China, known to local people as East Turkistan. Its Call to Action is endorsed by more than 400 organisations from over 40 countries.

For more information, visit www.enduyghurforcedlabour.org.

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