HELP STOP UYGHUR GENOCIDE.
As you all know, enforced slave labor and poor working conditions for garment workers are issues we at Ilk + Ernie care deeply about. Some of you may or may not know about the appalling mistreatment and enforced imprisonment of Uyghur Muslims that is currently going on in China. Regardless, we felt compelled to use our platform to share a super educational article written by our dear friend Roxy Khan-Williams.
Roxy works for the anti-facist organisation Hope Not Hate where she works on issues to do with islamophobia and racism towards Muslims. We are sharing her good work in the hope to spread awareness and better educate those who may not fully understand the extent at which these poor people are being treated.
'Currently, between one and three million Uyghur people are believed to have been interned in re-education camps – forced to renounce their Muslim faith, pledge allegiance to the Chinese state and work as slave labourers.
Women are forcibly sterilised and subject to forced abortions, children are separated from their parents and put into orphanages, as well as reports of state sanctioned sexual violence. Uyghur cultural sites are demolished and the entire population has been placed under mass surveillance. Make no mistake – this is a genocide under the pretext of fighting terrorism.'
We're practically looking at another holocaust folks and it's not good.
SO with that being said, let's discuss the fashion industry and its complicity in Uyghur human rights abuses in China.
Yep, hold onto your hats, many of the brands you love and admire are responsible for aiding the genocide. Let's let Roxy explain -
' This has been a year where we have all been forced to stop and ask – how can we do things differently? How can we do things better? Coronavirus has radically changed how we think about work and community, BLM made us confront the real impacts of racism and recent forest fires and warnings for the planet’s wildlife has showed us that time is running out on climate change.
Yet while it seems the whole world is in flux, a familiar story can still be told of the fashion industry’s complicity in both human and environmental harm. From Boohoo’s Leicester clothing sweatshop scandal, big brands leaving garment makers in the global south unpaid when coronavirus crushed sales and ever increasing evidence of the environmental impacts that the fashion industry has on our planet.
But is the industry really responding? Like the rest of the corporate world, the fashion industry pledged itself to racial equality and fairness in the wake of BLM – yet just months earlier a report published by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute revealed that over 83 well-known brands from the fashion, automobile and technology sector were implicated in in the use of Uyghur forced labour in Chinese factories.
Between one and three million Uyghur people are believed to being interned in re-education camps – forced to renounce their Muslim faith, pledge allegiance to the Chinese state and work as slave labourers. Women are forcibly sterilised and subject to forced abortions, children are separated from their parents and put into orphanages, as well as reports of state sanctioned sexual violence. Uyghur cultural sites are demolished and the entire population has been placed under mass surveillance. Make no mistake – this is a genocide under the pretext of fighting terrorism. '
' The fashion world can’t sit by whilst the industry is implicated in the biggest human rights abuse so far this century. It’s time for fashion to take a stand against what’s happening, not just post activist chic messages on social media.'
This summer a coalition of 190 human rights groups, trade unions and civil organisations said the entire fashion world was tainted by this industrial scale human rights abuse. They claimed that 84% of cotton production from China comes from the Uyghur Region – that’s 1 in 5 garments in the global apparel market.
We at HOPE not hate are trying to bring the issue to wider attention and force the industry to take action. More than 10,000 people co-signed our open letter to the CEOs of Nike, Adidas, Puma and Fila as well as non-fashion brands Apple, BMW and Jaguar Land-Rover, demanding that they prove that there is no Uyghur forced labour anywhere in their Chinese supply chains
The fashion world can’t sit by whilst the industry is implicated in the biggest human rights abuse so far this century. It’s time for fashion to take a stand against what’s happening, not just post activist chic messages on social media.
We need systemic change in the way the fashion industry models itself and a cognitive shift in how we view our clothes. If we want clothes that cheap, then we must question why they are that price? .
We can’t tolerate human rights and worker abuses for the sake of cheaper clothes. To put it simply: new t-shirts should not be cheaper than your morning flat white. Let us destigmatise wearing the same dress twice, take pride in finding a bargain in a charity shop and gracefully accept hand me downs.' - WELL SAID!
SO WHAT CAN WE DO?
Educate yourself: If we want meaningful and systemic change to take place within the fashion industry and its complicity in atrocities such as those against the Uyghurs, we must first arm ourselves with the knowledge and awareness to do so. Hope Not Hate have an excellent resource centre to get to grips with the Uyghur genocide.
Talk about it: Many people haven’t even heard of the genocide in Xinjiang (and that’s because people have only just paying attention). Have a conversation with the people around you about what you have read, stay curious and open minded! Share content with your social networks can be a great way to start a conversation, we recommend following @uyghurcongress and @uyghurprojectig on Instagram as a good place to start
Buy consciously: If 1 in 5 cotton garments are tainted with Uyghur forced labour, then we must start thinking about where we are buying our clothes from. Look for GOTS or BCI certifications, better still, ask brands where they source their cotton from and let them know you are aware of the fashion industries complicity in the Uyghur forced labour.
Contact your MP: Email or write to your MP and pressure them to speak out on the human rights abuses faced by the Uyghurs as well as to lobby for changes in supply chains laws in both nationally and internationally. Amnesty have provided a sample here
Sign these petitions:
Free Uyghur Muslims from forced labour
Donate: Due to government sanctions, no aid can enter China, and anyone within China can be detained by the authorities for having any contact outside the border. However, you can help Uyghur refugees who have managed to flee to Turkey and other areas. You can do your own research and find a project that resonates with you, or donate directly to this Launch Good campaign.