(Washington, D.C.—Aug. 28, 2019) Citizen Power Initiatives for China, a D.C.-based NGO that fights for democracy in China, released a report on how China uses forced labor from gulags to produce cotton for export.
The report, titled, Cotton: The Fabric of Lies (hereafter referred to as “Cotton”), states that 84 percent of China’s cotton production n, including exported cotton, comes from China’s Xinjiang region, an area known for wrongly imprisoning millions of its ethnic minority residents in a large prison network the government terms “re-education camps.” The prisoners have often been targeted only for their ethnicity or Islamic faith and are often starved, tortured, and brainwashed, only given better treatment if they demonstrate allegiance to the Chinese Communist Party. Camp survivors have also mentioned that some female prisoners are given a pill that stops their menstrual cycles, causing suspicion that the Chinese government is attempting to sterilize them. Since many family members are often imprisoned simultaneously, the Chinese government is placing children who do not have caretakers in state-run orphanages, where they are forced to speak Mandarin instead of their native language and taught allegiance to the Communist Party.
Outside of the camp, ethnic minority residents from Xinjiang, most of whom are Muslim, have been prohibited from exercising ordinary parts of their lives, such as wearing traditional Muslim clothing or adhering to the halal diet.
This severe eradication of human life and identity all of the criteria for genocide outlined in Article 2 of the United Nation’s Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
Chinese businesses, firsthand accounts, and the Chinese government have all stated that Xinjiang facilities involved in cotton production force inmates from the surrounding prisons to work, according to Cotton. This means at least a percentage of cotton and cotton-based products coming from China have been produced using unethical labor, including those that have made it into the international market.
“Because forced labor is used so ubiquitously throughout Xinjiang, it is very difficult to separate Xinjiang’s forced labor economy from its regular economy,” the report reads. “Based on our findings, governments, companies, and consumers should assume that any cotton products sourced from China are a product of China’s cotton gulag.”
As such, ChinaAid strongly encourages international businesses to stop purchasing cotton from China until they can ensure that the product has been ethically produced and that their money is not contributing to the ongoing genocide of Xinjiang’s minority people.