Zara, new accusation of forced labor of the Uighurs

To understand the rest of the article:

For several years, NGOs have been warning about the internment in camps of many Uighurs in north-west China.

The Uighurs are a Sunni Muslim ethnic group, a minority in China but a majority in the north-western province of Xinjiang. Human rights organizations report that more than 1 million Muslims, mostly Uighurs, are held in political re-education camps in Xinjiang. The Chinese government blames this minority for a series of bloody attacks in recent years. "The internment camps are above all places of punishment and torture, not learning. There are persistent reports of beatings, deprivation of food and solitary confinement," said the NGO Amnesty International in a report published in October 2018. Detainees are denied contact with the outside world.

Recently, H&M shared evidence of its commitment to exclude forced labor from the Uighurs from its production chain. This is partly due to the mobilization of many NGOs and determined activists. However, less than a week ago, Spanish giant Zara was also involved in the case. Storytelling and mobilization!

It all began on 30 July. Zara is accused of benefiting from the enslavement of the Uighurs. Two of its suppliers are directly incriminated, including Huafu. Zara (Inditex) then denies any involvement "we can confirm that Inditex has no commercial relations, neither with factories based in Xinjiang nor with any of the factories mentioned in the report". At the same time, Zara promises that the NGO that revealed the scandal has "acknowledged" their non-involvement. Information quickly denied by the NGO in question, ASPI. Several times thereafter, Zara denied any business relationship in Xinjiang.

But this was a lie. Independent researchers have now revealed damning documents that prove that Zara does indeed have business relations with two Chinese companies that enslave Uighurs: Huafu and Luthai Textile.

Various associations have since put enormous pressure on the giant to prevent these activities from continuing. Together with H&M, they had achieved their goal. Will they do it again?

This is surely only the beginning of a long dismantling, but unlike many tragedies like these, it is much easier for us to act. Simply by finding out which brands are forcibly employing Uighurs, boycotting them, and spreading the word. Zara is (unfortunately) just one example among many. It is easy to cite Nike, Samsung, Nintendo, Nokia, Ralph Lauren... Some have made commitments following pressure from activists, such as Adidas, Lacoste, or Calvin Klein.

Recently, 100 MEPs have mobilized for the European Commission to publish a blacklist targeting Chinese companies complicit in crimes against humanity with the Uighurs, banning all cooperation with them and banning their products from the European market. Such a list has been issued by the US administration, preventing the giant Amazon from continuing its relations with its Chinese supplier on the list.

The slavery of the Uighurs is unfortunately not going to stop tomorrow, but it is important to be aware of the power of our actions, even on such a small scale.

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