In August, Bloomberg reported what we at the Human Rights Foundation already knew: The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was sending in bots to attack our award-winning Uyghur Forced Labor Checker to deter you from downloading it and discovering the truth behind where your clothes are made and, more importantly, who makes them.
That’s what our Google plug-in does—it lets you know when your shopping cart might be filled with items made by one of the 1.5 million Uyghurs the CCP has forced into concentration camps and asks you to think twice about your purchases.
That dress you’re pining over from New York Fashion Week? It was made by a 16-year-old girl whose family doesn’t know where she is or if she is even alive. That T-shirt Gigi Hadid wore on the runway? Made by a man in his 50s who has been tortured, raped, and is under constant surveillance. That coat you saw someone wearing to the afterparty? Made by a woman who used to be a teacher but is now being forced to eliminate her identity as a Uyghur Muslim.
The Uyghur people have their own language, their own culture, and their own identity distinct from the Han Chinese. The CCP is trying to erase their identity, and they’re doing so by subjecting them to political indoctrination and grave human rights abuses. They are “reeducated” and made to learn Mandarin Chinese. They are forced to have abortions, use intrauterine devices, and receive sterilizations. And they are mandated to work non-stop with little to no pay. Most notably, picking cotton and working in clothing factories.
The CCP doesn’t want you to know these things. In fact, they do everything in their power to ensure you don’t by silencing activists and persecuting their families. The first and most obvious reason is that they’re trying to eliminate the entire Uyghur population and want to do so without any backlash. And the second is that they have ties to major Western fashion brands, and they don’t want that to change.
Do you see the connecting thread?
One in five pieces of cotton clothing worldwide is linked to Uyghur forced labor. Either Uyghurs were forced to pick the raw material, the cotton, or they cut the fabric and made the clothes that you are wearing.
Fast fashion brands like Shein, Nike, Zara, and many others, meanwhile, have been in the spotlight due to their use of Uyghur forced labor. Consumers have boycotted these brands. They have been ridiculed on social media and in the news. And mass protests have occurred to raise awareness of their supply chain.