Statement on Esquel Group’s hiring practices in East Turkistan

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For immediate release
July 22, 2020 11:12 am EDT
Contact: Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP), +1.571.882.4825, +1.202.790.1795

Esquel Group Chairman John Cheh cites a UHRP report in a letter and white paper emailed to NGOs and journalists yesterday, implying that UHRP applauds Esquel’s hiring practices. The April 2017 UHRP report, Discrimination, Mistreatment and Coercion: Severe Labor Rights Abuses Faced by Uyghurs in China and East Turkistan, was published 18 months before the Chinese government launched its vast scheme of factory forced labor for Uyghurs, in the fall of 2018.

UHRP’s mention of Esquel occurs in the section documenting systematic racism against Uyghur job-seekers, “Hiring Discrimination Against Uyghurs.” The report pointed out that many international companies were silent on their hiring practices in East Turkistan, despite operating in a region with a long history of open job discrimination based on ethnic identity, including in the private sector as well as the civil service, education system, and other sectors. The report mentioned Esquel by noting that it was one of the few international corporations to publicly disclose a commitment to racial diversity in hiring in East Turkistan, as described by a Forbes staff reporter in an article published five years earlier, in 2012. UHRP did not independently verify the company’s record on this self-described commitment.

UHRP reiterates its position on the need for the private sector to exit the Uyghur Region and to end “business as usual.” As UHRP has said since 2018, the global response to the Uyghur human rights crisis requires “all international companies to cease operations and sales in East Turkistan as long as the regional government continues to operate concentration camps and total-control measures of collective punishment, including separating children from their living parents and other relatives.”