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

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Uyghur Human Rights Project
January 12, 2021, 12:29 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) welcomes the U.S. decision to ban the import of all cotton and tomato products produced in East Turkistan on account of forced labor.

UHRP calls on all governments to take similar actions and welcomes measures announced this week by the United Kingdom and Canada focused on business complicity in Uyghur forced labor.

“This is the right decision, and more steps are needed,” said Omer Kanat, UHRP Executive Director. “UHRP has been calling for a complete ban on imports tainted by China’s atrocity crimes against Uyghurs. With the genocidal campaign that is soon to enter its 5th year, Uyghurs don’t understand how ‘business as usual’ has continued as long as it has.”

The International Labor Organization, the peak body in the UN system concerned with labor rights, must break its silence. To date, Director-General Guy Ryder has made no mention of the most massive scheme of government-organized forced labor since World War II.

Supply chains from China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region are tainted by slavery and human rights violations,” said Ken Cuccinelli, Acting Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, during the briefing.

CBP Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan noted that their investigations confirmed the presence of six ILO indicators of forced labor in the Uyghur Region, including “debt bondage, restriction of movement, isolation, intimidation and threats, withholding of wages, and abusive working and living conditions.”

Today’s ban follows a number of other actions taken by the U.S. government over the last 12 months. On December 2, 2020, CBP issued a WRO on cotton and cotton products produced by the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), the single biggest contributor to Uyghur forced labor in East Turkistan.

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned the XPCC and two of its leading officials under the Global Magnitsky Act in July 2020, and the Commerce department banned exports to the XPCC, along with 27 other entities, in October 2019 after determining that they were “implicated in human rights violations and abuses in the implementation of China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, and high-technology surveillance . . . in the XUAR.”

Read more:

UHRP: CBP should issue region-wide ban on cotton imports from East Turkistan

UHRP: UHRP praises European Parliament resolution, urges strong collective action against Uyghur forced labor

UHRP: UHRP hails action to end import of cotton products from Chinese paramilitary conglomerate in the Uyghur Region

UHRP: Uyghur organizations call on the ILO to denounce Uyghur forced labor

UHRP: UHRP praises further Congressional action against Uyghur forced labor