UHRP Hails Passage of Uyghur Forced Labor Bill, Urges President’s Signature

US Senate

December 16, 2021, 1:00 p.m. EST
For Immediate Release
Contact: Omer Kanat +1 (202) 790-1795, Peter Irwin +1 (646) 906-7722

The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) praises the U.S. Congress for passing a well-crafted compromise bill and sending the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act to President Biden to sign it into law.

“This law is the beginning of the end of ‘business as usual’,” said UHRP Executive Director Omer Kanat. “With mountains of evidence that Uyghurs are subjected to state-imposed forced labor — whether they are business owners, teachers, nurses, students, or farmers — it is about time that we put the burden of proof on companies.

“If you want to import products from a region filled with hundreds of prison-camps and work-camps, you will now have to prove that you are not sourcing forced-labor goods.”

UHRP and fellow members of the Coalition to End Forced Labor in the Uyghur Region continue to call on companies worldwide to end business ties to the Uyghur Region, and ensure they are not sourcing products from workplaces across China where Uyghurs have been transported against their will.

UHRP Board Chair Nury Turkel urged Congress to act on the Uyghur forced labor crisis more than two years ago, in his October 2019 CECC testimony. Mr. Turkel, currently Vice Chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, made 17 policy recommendations for government action and 5 recommendations for the private sector, noting, “It is becoming increasingly hard to ignore the fact that goods manufactured in East Turkistan have a high likelihood of being produced with forced labor.” 

Speaking on behalf of UHRP in his 2019 testimony, Mr. Turkel concluded by urging Congress to recognize the “nightmare totalitarian police state preventing free choice and the free flow of information,” and to” act to shift the burden of proof” to importers.

Read more:

Deception, Pressure, and Threats: The Transfer of Young Uyghur Women to Eastern China, Feb 8, 2008. Over a decade ago, in 2008, UHRP reported on the government’s systematic program of coercive labor transfer that particularly targeted young women to be sent to factories in coastal Chinese provinces. Government cadres used a combination of deception, pressure, and threats to round up thousands of young Uyghurs against their will. Then, as now, the program had a dual effect of separating families and placing Uyghurs in involuntary factory settings far from home.

It is past time to stop importing Chinese cotton and apparel produced by forced labor in the Uyghur Region, Nov 7, 2019

Testimony of UHRP Board Chairman, Nury Turkel, CECC Hearing: Forced Labor, Mass Internment, and Social Control in Xinjiang, Oct 17, 2019

70 Uyghur groups ask for urgent action on Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, Sep 9, 2020

Uyghurs hail action by U.S. Congress on China’s forced labor, worst since WWII, Sep 22, 2020

UHRP hails action to end import of cotton products from Chinese paramilitary conglomerate in the Uyghur Region, Dec 2, 2020

UHRP welcomes tomato and cotton bans to end complicity with Uyghur forced labor, calls on the ILO to break silence, Jan 13, 2021

60 groups urge passage of Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, May 27, 2021 

UHRP Applauds US Action to Address Uyghur Forced Labor in China’s Solar Industry, Jun 25, 2021

UHRP Calls for U.S. Investigation of Universal Electronics Products Made with Uyghur Forced Labor, Oct 8, 2021

Explosive Report Exposes Uyghur Forced Labour Connections in Global Retail Brands’ Supply Chains, Nov 17, 2021

UHRP Welcomes 428-1 Vote on Uyghur Forced Labor in House of Representatives, Dec 8, 2021