China: minorities detained in internment camps reportedly subject to forced labour in factory linked to US sportswear brand

An investigation by the Associated Press published in December 2018 linked US sportswear brand Badger Sport to a factory inside an internment camp in Xinjiang, China, where Uighurs, Kazakhs and other minorities are allegedly being subject to forced labour. 

Following the report, Badger Sport CEO John Anton said that the company would source sportswear elsewhere while it conducted an investigation. A Sourcing Update from Badger Sport is included below. 

In January 2019, Badger Sport announced it was severing the relationship with its Xinjiang supplier based on an "abundance of caution" and it would no longer source products from "this region of China."

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13 March 2019

China: Officials hint Xinjiang detention camps to be phased out; But relatives concerned detainees are being released into forced labour

Author: Lily Kuo, Guardian

"Xinjiang detention camps may be phased out, governor suggests", 13 March 2019

Top officials in Xinjiang have hinted that the system of internment centres used to hold a million Muslim minorities may one day be phased out.

Researchers say huge numbers of people, mostly Uighurs, are being held in detention and re-education camps in the far western territory as part of a huge security crackdown in the name of counter terrorism efforts...

“In general there will be fewer and fewer students in the centres. If one day our society doesn’t need them, the education and training centres will disappear,” said Shohrat Zakir the governor of the region and its most senior Uighur official. Zakir’s comments come after months of mounting international criticism...

Detainees are slowly being released from the camps, but remain under house arrest, according to some reports based on accounts from relatives. Other reports say the camps are feeding into a forced labor system where detainees are released but ordered to work in textile factories...

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11 January 2019

China: Badger Sport drops Chinese supplier over reports of forced labour in detention camps

Author: James Griffiths, CNN

"US clothing company drops Chinese supplier over Xinjiang labor camp fears", 11 January 2019

A US sportswear company has dropped a Chinese supplier over fears its products were produced using forced labor in detention camps in Xinjiang.
In the past year, numerous reports from rights groups and former detainees have emerged of hundreds of thousands of people, mostly ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslims, being detained in so-called "vocational education centers" in Xinjiang.

This week, Badger Sportswear, a North Carolina-based retailer, said it would "no longer source any product" from Xinjiang-based supplier Hetian Taida. While Badger said Hetian Taida's current operations were "consistent with our Global Sourcing Policy" it added historical documentation was insufficient and so it was severing the relationship based on an "abundance of caution."

Additionally, the US company said it would no longer source products from "this region of China."...

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Author: AFP

« Travail forcé : une firme américaine rompt avec un fournisseur chinois», 10 janvier 2019

Une firme américaine d'habillement de sport, Badger Sport, va rompre ses relations avec un fournisseur chinois, de peur que celui-ci ne recoure au travail forcé dans des camps d'internement au Xinjiang, région où Pékin détient en masse des membres de l'ethnie musulmane Ouïghour.

Badger Sport, basée en Caroline du Nord (est des Etats-Unis), a annoncé...qu'elle cesserait de s'approvisionner en vêtements auprès du chinois Hetian Taida, dont la production est localisée au Xinjiang (nord-ouest de la Chine).

« Sur fond d'importantes inquiétudes, et en vue d'éliminer toute suspicion sur notre chaîne d'approvisionnement face aux controverses (...), nous n'accepterons plus aucun produit provenant de Hetian Taida ou du nord-ouest de la Chine », a indiqué l'entreprise...

...[D]es enquêteurs indépendants tout comme une enquête interne ouverte par Badger Sport, qui coopère avec une ONG certifiant les responsabilités sociales des entreprises, n'a mis en lumière aucune violation des « principes manufacturiers éthiques » du groupe américain.

« Néanmoins, les documents fournis par Hetian Taida au sujet de leur précédent site de production s'avèrent insuffisants pour conclure avec certitude » que les conditions de travail satisfaisaient aux principes que l'entreprise exige de ses fournisseurs, souligne Badger.

Le régime communiste a, lui, fustigé cette décision...

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20 December 2018

Chinese Govt. denies reports of forced labour in internment camps

Author: Associated Press

"China blasts US media reports of forced labor in Muslim area", 20 December 2018

China is striking back at U.S. news media reports about forced labor in its heavily Muslim region of Xinjiang.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said... the reports are "a malicious attack that severely distorts the fact."

The Associated Press and other media have reported that Muslims detained in internment camps have in some cases been forced to work in factories. The AP found that clothing made in one camp had been shipped to an American sportswear company.

Hua said that China has abolished re-education through labor and described the camps as vocational training centers that help families shake off poverty...

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19 December 2018

USA: Govt. reviews reports of forced labour in Chinese ethnic minority detention camps

Author: The Associated Press

"US reviews report of imports from forced labour in China camp", 18 December 2018

The U.S. government is reviewing reports of forced labour at a Chinese detention camp where ethnic minorities must give up their religion and language and work in factories.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said... reporting by The Associated Press and other media “for the first time appears to link the internment camps identified in Western China to the importation of goods produced by forced labour by a U.S. company.”

The AP tracked shipments from a factory in a detention camp in China’s Xinjiang region to Badger Sportswear... The company ships clothing to universities, colleges and schools around the United States...

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18 December 2018

Shipments to Badger Sport traced to Chinese internment camp where detainees are allegedly subject to forced labour

Author: Dake Kang, Martha Mendoza & Yanan Wang, Associated Press

"In locked compound, minorities in China make clothes for US", 18 December 2018

...The Associated Press has tracked recent, ongoing shipments from... [a] factory inside an internment camp to Badger Sportswear, a leading supplier in Statesville, North Carolina...

Chinese authorities say the camps, which they call training centers, offer free vocational training for Uighurs, Kazakhs and others, mostly Muslims, as part of a plan to bring minorities into “a modern civilized” world and eliminate poverty in Xinjiang...

However, a dozen people who either had been in a camp or had friends or family in one told the AP that detainees they knew were given no choice but to work at the factories....Payment varied according to the factory. Some got paid nothing...

Men and women in the complex that has shipped products to Badger Sportswear make clothes for privately-owned Hetian Taida Apparel in a cluster of 10 workshops within the compound walls. Hetian Taida says it is not affiliated with the internment camps, but its workforce includes detainees...

Badger chief executive Anton said... his company has sourced products from an affiliate of Hetian Taida for many years... “We will voluntarily halt sourcing and will move production elsewhere while we investigate the matters raised,” he said...

It’s unclear whether other companies also export products made by forced labor in Xinjiang to the U.S., Europe and Asia. The AP found two companies exporting to the U.S. that share approximately the same coordinates as places experts have identified as internment camps... But the AP could not confirm whether the companies use forced labor...

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18 December 2018

Statement posted to Badger Sport's Twitter

Author: Badger Sport

..."In recent days, press reports have alleged that one supplier's facility, Hetian Taida Apparel Co. Ltd. was acting in a manner that is inconsistent with our policies. This facility is certified by Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP)... We immediately suspended ordering product from Heitan Taida and its affiliates while an investigation is conducted..."

The full statement is attached. 

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15 December 2018

China: Mounting evidence suggests system of forced labour emerging from camps for ethnic minorities

Author: Chris Buckley & Austin Ramzy, New York Times

"China’s Detention Camps for Muslims Turn to Forced Labor", 16 Dec 2018

…China’s ruling Communist Party has said…that a sprawling network of camps in the Xinjiang region is providing job training and putting detainees on production lines for their own good, offering an escape from poverty, backwardness and the temptations of radical Islam.

But mounting evidence suggests a system of forced labor is emerging from the camps…Accounts from the region, satellite images and previously unreported official documents indicate that growing numbers of detainees are being sent to new factories, built inside or near the camps, where inmates have little choice but to accept jobs and follow orders.

 “These people who are detained provide free or low-cost forced labor for these factories,” said Mehmet Volkan Kasikci, a researcher in Turkey who has collected accounts of inmates in the factories by interviewing relatives who have left China…

…Serikzhan Bilash, a founder of Atajurt Kazakh Human Rights, an organization in Kazakhstan that helps ethnic Kazakhs who have left neighboring Xinjiang, said he had interviewed relatives of 10 inmates who had told their families that they were made to work in factories after undergoing indoctrination in the camps. They mostly made clothes, and they called their employers “black factories,” because of the low wages and tough conditions, he said…

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