(BEIJING) – The US government announced Tuesday that it is investigating reports of forced labor in a Chinese detention center where ethnic minorities are sewing clothes that have been shipped to the US market.
US. Customs and Border Guard said in a statement that The Associated Press and other media reports "for the first time seem to link the detention centers in western China to imports of goods made by forced labor of a US company."
The AP tracked shipments from a factory in a warehouse in China's far western Xinjiang region to Badger Sportswear in North Carolina. The company delivers clothing to universities, colleges and schools in the United States.
Experts and a human rights organization say that as many as 1
According to recent media reports, Badger announced that the deal with Chinese subcontractor Hetian Taida Apparel had been suspended and that an investigation would be initiated. A statement on its website states that "one percent or less" of Badger's products was sourced from Hetian Taida.
The Washington-based Washington-based Workers Rights Consortium (WRC) has signed agreements with many educational institutions to ensure that the products they sell to ensure campus are ethically manufactured, said that "forced labor of any kind is one serious violation of university codes of conduct. "
The group's executive director, Scott Nova, said in a message to affiliated universities that he is building the AP's report. The WRC had gathered additional evidence that the factory that had supplied Badger with college clothes "One and the same" was like the factory in the well-guarded detention center seen by AP reporters. In October, the camp was described as a training center that helps minorities avoid religious extremism and gain employment skills.
The state-run C hina Daily released an article Tuesday featuring ethnic minorities in Xinjiang hired to work in garment factories. The story showed a 23-year-old woman named Burebgul Ali, who was described as "reluctant to work in the factory".
"But after learning skills and learning Mandarin," the story said, "Burebgul found her job comfortable and could earn at least 3,000 yuan ($ 435) a month. [AP]
The AP spoke to a dozen former detainees and individuals who had friends or relatives in similar centers in Xinjiang who said they were only given the opportunity to work in factories on site. The Uygurs and Kazakhs, who were interviewed in exile in Kazakhstan, said that even specialists were trained for factory work.
It is against US law to import forced labor products. Customs and Border Protection said it was part of its mission to "use laws to protect people from forced labor as well as our nation's economy from companies profiting from this form of modern slavery."