UN special rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, Tomoya Obokata reported to the Human Rights Council last Tuesday that sufficient evidence points to forced labor in the Uyghur Region of China.
In particular, he highlighted that, “While these programmes may create employment opportunities for minorities and enhance their incomes, as claimed by the Government, the Special Rapporteur considers that indicators of forced labour pointing to the involuntary nature of work rendered by affected communities have been present in many cases.”
While “many cases” is an understatement, this is by far the clearest statement on Uyghur forced labor from the United Nations to date.
Uyghur rights activists are still awaiting the report from UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, who visited the Uyghur Region earlier this year. Bachelet was the first of her post to visit China in 17 years. Prior to her visit, she had only expressed “concerns” over “allegations” and admitted that further investigation was warranted.
“Some instances may amount to enslavement”
Bloomberg shares that Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Wang Wenbin, has placed Obokata among the ranks of the “anti-China forces.” But the repetitive condemnation may not be enough to fix the damage done.
According to Obokata’s report,
“Given the nature and extent of powers exercised over affected workers during forced labor, including excessive surveillance, abusive living and working conditions, restriction of movement through internment, threats, physical and/or sexual violence and other inhuman or degrading treatment, some instances may amount to enslavement as a crime against humanity, meriting a further independent analysis.”
Join the campaign to end Uyghur forced labor!
A Freedom United community of over 84,000 people as well as our colleagues across the world, including Uyghur rights activists, have been reporting on Uyghur forced labor and campaigning for its end for years. We hope this report is a prelude to further action by the Human Rights Council and UN member states.
That being said, we won’t hold our breath.
We must continue to push for an end to forced labor camps in the Uyghur Region and for business to cut ties with Uyghur forced labor. Join us today by writing to fashion brands, signing the petition or learning more about the issue.