A video investigation reported Monday that Chinese companies are using involuntary Uighur Muslim labor to produce face masks, according to The New York Times.
The investigation found the Uighur Muslim labor is part of the Personal Protective Equipment supply chain, according to The New York Times. The companies use a Chinese government-sponsored program that experts claim usually coerces Uighur Muslims and other minorities into working against their will.
The New York Times found a medical supply of face masks imported to Georgia were from a factory in the Hubei province in China, where more than 100 Uighur Muslims were sent to work, The New York Times reported. Workers at these factories are expected to pledge allegiance to China every week and learn Mandarin. (Related: Chinese Government Spied On Uighur Muslims Using Cell Phone Apps, Study Finds)
The Chinese government said the program helps “local residents rise above poverty through employment and lead fulfilling lives,” according to The New York Times. The number of workers placed into these forced-labor conditions and the steep penalties for those who refuse to cooperate indicate working is involuntary.
“There are these coercive quotas that cause people to be put into factory work when they don’t want to be. And that could be considered forced labor under international law,” Director Amy K. Lehr of the Human Rights Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies told The New York Times.
Media reports and public records indicated at least 17 Chinese companies use the government program, The New York Times reported.
In June, China’s National Products Administration reported 51 companies producing medical protection equipment in Xinjiang, where a large majority of Uighur Muslims live, according to The New York Times. Before the pandemic, only four companies in Xinjiang made medical protection equipment.
The Chinese Communist Party has reportedly been placing Uighur Muslims into indoctrination camps for religious activities. The Chinese government has also been alleged of “demographic genocide” on the Uighur Muslims through forced abortions, birth control, imprisonment and detention camps.
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