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DUPS A-Team: Nike and the Forced Uighur Labour

Disclaimer: The views expressed are that of the individual author. All rights are reserved to the original authors of the materials consulted, which are identified in the footnotes below.


By Gaurika Suri (A-Team)

Artwork by Gaurika Sur: "Forced Uighur Labour" (25 November 2020)


According to the ILO Forced Labor Convention, 1930, Forced Labor is defined as “all work or service which is exacted from any person under the threat of a penalty and for which the person has not offered himself or herself voluntarily.”


Something that has been flooding the news recently has been the treatment of Uighur Muslims. Let’s have a closer look at one of America’s biggest multinational corporation Nike Incorporated and the ties it has to the Uighur Muslims.


According to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, 9,800 Uighur workers were transferred to the Taekwang factory, a factory that produces shoes located in Qingdao in China’s Shandong province. [1] The main customer of this factory being Nike. It is said that, while it is not entirely possible to confirm that all workers transferred from the province of Xinjiang are forced, the case study of Nike suggests that highly problematic and inhumane labour practices have been carried out, which are analogous to the meaning of forced labour as enshrined in ILO's Forced Labor Convention. Research shows that the workers are not only working against their own will but are trapped in the factory with barbed wires. Their movement is also heavily monitored by police. [2]


It can be seen that their lives are far from free. In addition to this, the Uighurs are obliged to make shoes during the day and are study Mandarin in the evenings. According to the Washington Post, they are also forced to work in the factories under the threat of reeducation.[3] This has only been a way for China to enforce her patriotic and nationalistic views.


This shows how the supply chain market has been tarnished and it can’t be said without reasonable doubt that shoes produced in China are free from forced Uighur Labor.


 

Sources


[1] Xiuzhong, Xu Vicky et. al, ‘Uyghurs for sale’,< https://www.aspi.org.au/report/uyghurs-sale>

[2] Abdulla, Hannah. ‘Clothing brands tangled in Uyghur forced labour claims’https://www.just-style.com/news/clothing-brands-tangled-in-uyghur-forced-labour-claims_id138236.aspx


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