“Reasonable to conclude” forced labour taking place in east Turkistan: New UN report

DHARAMSALA, 17 Aug: The UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Modern Slavery has stated in a report that it is “reasonable to conclude” that China has been subjecting Uyghurs to forced labour in East Turkistan.

As part of China’s state-mandated forced labour programmes, Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other Turkic ethnicities have been exposed to oppressive and abusive tactics, the report added.

Tomoya Obokata, the UN Special Rapporteur has stated in the report that “the nature and extent of powers exercised” meant that “some instances may amount to enslavement as a crime against humanity.” 

Additionally, the report also concluded that Uyghur workers have been exposed to abusive living and working conditions that may constitute human trafficking, arbitrary detention, forced labour, and enslavement through the use of forced labour.

Dolkun Isa, the president of the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), has responded to the report by stating that 

In response to the most recent report, stated that the Special Rapporteur had reached the same conclusion as we in the Uyghur advocacy movement had for years.

“Forced labour programmes have been weaponised as a tool of genocide by the Chinese Communist Party – and yet corporations around the world continue to turn a profit from atrocity and governments refuse to legislate to put a stop to it. This report’s findings must be a wakeup call to those that have so far refused to take action on the proliferation of Uyghur forced labour-made goods in global supply chains,” he has said.

“Those implicated cannot feign ignorance when the world’s largest and most prolific intergovernmental organisation, the UN, has laid bare the extremities of modern slavery in East Turkistan,” read a statement issued by the WUC.

WUC has further urged governments and establishments all around the world to recognise the report’s findings and called for appropriate steps to guarantee that they do not continue to be a party to crimes against humanity and contemporary atrocities.

China has long maintained that the detention camps equipped with a high-tech network of surveillance systems are necessary to counter Islamic extremism, but the findings of the report suggest otherwise.

“New U.N. Special Rapporteur’s Report on Contemporary Forms of Slavery concludes that forced labour is taking place in Xinjiang,” Adrian Zenz, senior fellow in China studies at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, an anti-communist think tank established by the US government and based in Washington, DC has tweeted, along with a copy of the report.

China is said to have begun the construction of a huge network of detention camps in the northwest of Uighur in 2017.

The UN experts and activists estimate that at least one million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims are held in the detention centres in East Turkistan, Beijing maintains that the camps are voluntary education and training centres.

Meanwhile, the US, UK, Dutch, Canada and several other countries have previously declared that China is committing genocide, the most heinous of crimes against Uighurs and other ethnic minorities.

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