Rabat – Member of the European Parliament Raphael Glucksmann has launched a social media campaign entitled “France for Uyghurs« to denounce global fashion companies implicated in human rights abuse scandals in China, such as Zara and Lacoste.
The French MEP launched the campaign in June after a report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) found that some 80,000 Uyghurs, a Muslim minority in northwest China, are forced to work for the benefit of global fashion companies.
The institute has identified 27 factories where Uyghurs work away from home in Xinjiang. Factories, according to ASPI, abuse Uyghurs supply 83 international companies, including Adidas, Nike, Puma, Lacoste, Zara, Tommy Hilfiger et Calvin Klein.
Warnings about human rights violations against Uyghurs have been ongoing since 2014. However, their media coverage has only intensified in the past two years after leaked images showed hundreds of Uyghurs being transferred. from their homes to forced labor and organ harvesting programs.
In response to the videos, the Chinese government claimed that the groups had been taken to “voluntary educational centers.” The Uyghurs then “graduated” from the centers and began to “train” in the factories, according to China’s official account.
the “France for the Uyghurs” The campaign is currently targeting all businesses accused of benefiting from forced labor by Uyghurs.
“Three million Uyghur Muslims are imprisoned and tortured in China. Not for what they do, but for who they are, ”reads the slogan Glucksmann has chosen for his campaign, which has so far garnered more than 200,000 supporters.
As part of the campaign, the MEP contacted Zara and Lacoste, among other companies, and asked them to sever their ties with all Chinese suppliers who Uyghurs In work.
While Adidas and Lacoste responded positively to inquiries and pledged to terminate business ties with Chinese suppliers, other companies, such as Zara, denied dealing with factories that would abuse Uyghurs.
Meanwhile, Nike responded with “ambiguous” responses and declined to provide any evidence that they were not part of a forced labor program. After receiving Nike’s response, the MEP stressed the importance of a legislative framework to enforce a duty of care for companies.
After the campaign went viral, some companies, such as Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein, reached out to Glucksmann before contacting them, pledging to cut ties with their suppliers over the next 12 months.
With international organizations putting increasing pressure on businesses, it remains to be seen how the move will affect trade relations between China and the rest of the world.