Many of the world’s biggest fashion brands and retailers are complicit in the forced labour and human rights violations being perpetrated on millions of Uighur people in the Xinjiang region of northwestern China, says a coalition of more than 180 human rights groups.
There is mounting global outrage over the atrocities being committed against the Uighur population in the region, including torture, forced separation and the compulsory sterilisation of Uighur women.
Despite these abuses, the coalition of human rights groups says many of the world’s leading clothing brands continue to source cotton and yarn produced through a vast state-sponsored system of forced labour involving up to 1.8m Uighur and other Turkic and Muslim people in prison camps, factories and farms in Xinjiang. It says that the forced labour system across the region is the largest internment of an ethnic and religious minority since the second world war.
Global fashion brands source so extensively from Xinjiang that the coalition estimates it is “virtually certain” that as many as one in five cotton products sold across the world are tainted with forced labour and human rights violations occurring there.