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Chinese websites are advertising Uighur forced labourers in ‘batches’ of 50 to 100, new evidence shows.
It’s part of the Xinjiang ‘labour transfer programme,’ which came under the government’s 2019 ‘five year plan’. UN human rights experts voiced their deep concerns about it in March this year.
Uighur are a Turkic ethnic group originating from the general region of Central and East Asia. They mainly live in the Uighur Autonomous Region in Xinjiang Province in north-western China, where the government has been detaining thousands of them in so-called ‘re-education camps,’ forcing them to learn Mandarin and abandon their Muslim faith.
It’s been estimated that more than 80,000 Uighur Muslims have been forced out of Xinjiang Province to work in factories under prison-like conditions since 2017. Such factories are producing goods for big brands like Nike and H&M, according to a report from the from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.
‘Every 50 transferred workers are assigned one government minder, and in some cases, police officers. They are watched by facial recognition technology and a specially designed app on their phones. Government officials conduct surveillance and report on their thoughts,’ the report, which examined hundreds of government documents and state media reports in China, says.
Now, a Sky News investigation has only added to evidence that purports to show human rights abuses towards the ethnic group. Hundreds of websites on the Chinese internet are said to be advertising Uighur labourers in ‘batches’ of 50-100. Workers have been living under ‘half-military’ conditions and the advertisements said that ‘security would be guaranteed by the government’.
According to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the Chinese government is justifying their treatment of Uighurs by ‘combatting terrorism and violent extremism, poverty alleviation or development purposes’. Experts from the UNHRC urged the government on March 29 to ‘immediately cease any such measures that are not fully compliant with international law, norms and standards relating to human rights, including the rights of minorities’.
The UNHRC is among a number of governing bodies and human rights organisations trying to establish an open and transparent dialogue with the Chinese government about their treatment of Uighur people. The Chinese government has called claims about Uighur forced labour ‘the lie of the century’, according to Sky News.
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Australian Strategic Policy Institute
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