Many of the world’s biggest fashion brands and retailers are complicit in the forced labor and human rights violations being perpetrated on millions of Uighur people in the Xinjiang region of northwestern China, according to The Guardian.
A coalition of more than 180 human rights groups estimates one in five cotton products sold across the world are tainted with human rights violations occurring there. A vast state-sponsored system of forced labor involves up to 1.8 million Uighur and other Turkic and Muslim people in prison camps, factories and farms.
China is the largest cotton producer in the world, with 84% of its cotton coming from the Xinjiang region. Cotton and yarn produced in Xinjiang are used extensively in other key garment-producing countries such as Bangladesh, Cambodia and Vietnam. Xinjiang cotton and yarn are also used in textiles and home furnishings. This week the New York Times reported that factories in the region were also supplying face masks and other PPE to countries around the world.
The coalition has published an extensive list of brands it claims continue to source from the region, or from factories connected to the forced labor of Uighur people, including Gap, C&A, Adidas, Muji, Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein.