China is forcing Uyghur workers to produce a massive face mask during the Coronavirus pandemic as part of the country’s Muslim re-education program, a report found.
Chinese companies are using Uyghur workers through a controversial government-sponsored program that experts say is often forced labor, according to a report. New York Times research.
It comes as Britain is accused Beijing of “gross, blatant human rights abuses” for its “deeply troubling” treatment of ethnic and religious minorities in Xinjiang. China has refuted the allegations.
China is forcing Uyghur workers to mass-produce face masks as part of the country’s re-education program during the corona virus pandemic, the report said. The file photo taken on June 18 shows workers in a clothing factory in Aketao province in Xinjiang Uyghur region
China has been heavily criticized by other countries and NGO groups for its policies against Muslims and other religious groups, including alleged sterilization programs, forced labor and “re-education” camps.
UN experts and activists have claimed that at least one million ethnic Uyghurs are detained in detention centers in Xinjiang, the West China region with a large population of the Muslim ethnic minority.
Former detainees claimed that Muslims in those internment camps were forced to eat pork and speak Mandarin.
After initially denying their existence, China acknowledged that it had opened ‘vocational training centers’ in Xinjiang aimed at preventing extremism by teaching Mandarin and vocational skills.
China has received much criticism from other countries for its policies against Muslims. The file photo taken on June 21 shows a group of Uyghur women working in a garment factory in a resettlement area in Yecheng Province, Xinjiang Autonomous Region of China.
But the country is rushing to meet global demand for personal protective equipment during the pandemic by using Uyghur labor through the labor transfer program, the New York Times revealed.
The investigation found that there were four companies in the Xinjiang region that produced the medical equipment before the coronavirus pandemic broke out in March. At the end of June, the number had risen to 51.
At least 17 Chinese companies use Uyghur forced labor to produce Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), some of which are exported to other countries, including the US, the report said.
At least one shipment of face masks, tracked down by the New York Times, was sent from a factory in Hubei County to a medical supply company in the U.S. state of Georgia, where more than 100 Uyghur people had been sent there to work.
World Uyghur Congress, a German-based ethnic minority rights group, said the use of forced labor in the manufacture of personal protective equipment is “not at all shocking.”
Zumretay Arkin, a spokesman for the group, told MailOnline: “It is extremely disturbing because it suggests that the government does not consider the lives of Uyghurs.
“China likes to claim ” ethnic harmony ‘”, but such a thing cannot exist in a hostile environment for the entire Uyghur people, where they are subject to a discriminatory and genocidal policy. ”
Commenting on the study of the Chinese labor program for Uyghur workers, Human Rights Watch told MailOnline, “The Chinese government’s restrictions on all aspects of Uyghurs” and the lives of other Turkish Muslims leave little or no room for choice, including whether and where to work.
“Similar restrictions prevent companies from performing essential and robust human rights due diligence, putting their supply chains at risk of the type of serious human rights violations described in this new report.”
It comes after Dominic Raab said that the reports of forced sterilization and mass detention in Xinjiang in China required international attention.
“Obviously, there are gross, blatant human rights violations going on … it’s deeply disturbing,” he told the BBC this week.
Dominic Raab (pictured on July 14 in Downing Street) said the reports of forced sterilization and mass detention in the predominantly Muslim region required international attention
“The reports and their human aspects … are reminiscent of something we haven’t seen for a long time, and this is from a leading member of the international community who wants to be taken seriously.
“We want a positive relationship [with China], but we cannot see such behavior and exclaim it, “added Raab.
The Chinese ambassador to the United Kingdom insisted on Sunday that Uighur Muslims live in ‘peace and harmony’, despite being confronted with a video that appears to show chained prisoners being driven on trains.
Liu Xiaoming, who appeared on the Andrew Marr Show, has denied that China is running a sterilization program for Uyghur women in the western Xinjiang region.
This photo taken on June 2, 201.9 shows a facility believed to be a re-education camp where mainly Muslim ethnic minorities are being held in Artux, north of Kashgar in Xinjiang, China
It is estimated that a million mostly Muslim-ethnic minorities are being held in what the authorities call “educational centers” in Xinjiang. This photo, taken on May 31, 2019, shows a watchtower at a high-security facility near a suspected re-education camp on the outskirts of Hotan
Liu insisted that the Uyghur population, which has reportedly increased in numbers over the past 40 years, enjoy a “peaceful, harmonious coexistence with other ethnic groups” in Xinjiang.
It comes after top global brands such as Apple, BMW, and Sony have been accused of sourcing factories from Uyghur forced labor.
The Chinese government transferred 80,000 or more Uyghurs from Xinjiang camps and factories across the country in March, according to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.
Who are the Chinese Muslims?
Muslims are not a new presence in China. Most Chinese Muslim communities, including the Hui, Uyghurs and Kazakhs, have lived in China for more than 1,000 years, according to Fact Tank Pew Research Center.
The largest concentrations of Muslims today are in the western provinces of Xinjiang, Ningxia, Qinghai and Gansu.
A significant number of Muslims live in the cities of Beijing, Xi’an, Tianjin and Shanghai.
Chinese Muslim men take part in a gathering for the celebration of the Islamic holiday, Eid al-Adha, or the Muslim festival of sacrifice, at Niu Jie Mosque in Beijing, China
They make up about two percent of the 1.4 billion inhabitants in China. However, because the country is so densely populated, the Muslim population is expected to be the 19th largest in the world by 2030.
The Muslim population in China is expected to increase from 23.3 million in 2010 to nearly 30 million in 2030.
Those who grow up and live in places dominated by the Han Chinese have little knowledge of Islam – or religions in general – and therefore consider it a threat.
Beijing’s policy makers are predominantly Han.
At the same time, the radical Muslim Uyghurs have killed hundreds in recent years, leading China to take even more extreme measures to destroy potential separatist movements.
Uyghurs, in particular, have long been accustomed to heavy-handed curbs on clothing, religious practices and travels after a series of deadly riots in 2009 in Urumqi, according to the Financial times.
Schoolchildren were not allowed to fast during Ramadan and attend religious events, while parents were forbidden to give newborns Muslim names such as ‘Mohammed’ and ‘Jihad’.
Certain symbols of Islam, such as beards and veils, were also prohibited. Women with face-covering veils are sometimes not allowed on buses. Unauthorized pilgrimages to Mecca were also limited.