Four Corners: Your clothes may be slave-made

An ABC’s Four Corners segment on Tuesday featured an exposé on forced labor in the Chinese textile industry. The segment focuses on the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR), an area known for being home to Chinese government ‘re-education’ through labor program.

It is estimated by Amnesty that up to one million people may be victims of modern slavery in the province. Many people suspected to be trapped in the Xinjiang region are still missing, with family members unaware if they are safe or alive. Many individuals interviewed by Amnesty reported horror stories of torture in the camps. 

People have been sent to the camps for many reasons, with a high proportion of victims being Muslim persons. Some reasons for ‘re-education’ include:

  • Open or private displays or religious or cultural affiliation

    • Growth of ‘abnormal’ beard 

    • Wearing a veil or headscarf

    • Prayer 

    • Fasting or avoidance of alcohol

    • Possession of religious texts 

  • Travel to muslim countries for work or education 

  • Contact with people outside of China 

  •  Use of encrypted messaging apps such as WhatsApp 

Many Australian brands are sourcing cotton from the Xinjiang province, including Target, Cotton On, Jeanswest, Dangerfield, Ikea and H&M. Target and H&M have reported that they are investigating their relationships with suppliers in the region.

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Sonja DuncanComment