As much as 10,000 slaves are being held in forced labour camps for working on Amazon’s supply chain. The company has been criticized for its inaction and lack of oversight. What does the future hold for these workers?
Amazon has been linked to a number of forced labor camps in China. The company is accused of using suppliers that have links to these camps.
Watchdog organizations and journalists have accused five of Amazon’s suppliers of using employees from China’s many “reeducation camps.” (Photo courtesy of Getty Images) )
According to a recent study, a number of Amazon’s Chinese suppliers are tied to Xinjiang-based forced labor camps for Uyghurs.
According to the Tech Transparency Project (TTP), five of Amazon’s suppliers have been accused of depending on these employees by watchdog organizations and journalists.
They are detainees at China’s many “reeducation institutions,” where Uyghur Muslims, Kazakhs, and other ethnic minorities are held.
Five firms have been connected directly or indirectly to forced labor of ethnic minorities in China’s Xinjiang province, according to Amazon’s public list of suppliers, which create Amazon products and merchandise for the internet giant’s private brands.
The Kindle ereader and the Echo smart speaker are among the Amazon gadgets under issue.
Amazon’s proprietary brands, on the other hand, sell a broad variety of consumer items, such as apparel, appliances, pet supplies, cables, and more.
The report’s authors said, “Amazon’s persistent employment of enterprises with well-documented linkages to forced labor in Xinjiang throw doubt on the internet giant’s professed intolerance of human rights violations in its supply chain.”
After the Chinese government ‘placed them in camp,’ a Uyghur dad hasn’t seen his young kids in five years. (Photo courtesy of Omer Faruh)
According to the research, Amazon’s supplier list was last ‘completely updated’ in June 2021, although data regarding the five companies’ ties to forced labor were already known before then.
The results raise concerns about the e-commerce giant’s ability to effectively evaluate its suppliers.
While Amazon claims that its suppliers “must not utilize forced labor” and that it “does not accept vendors that traffic people or in any other manner exploit workers by threat, force, coercion, abduction, or fraud,” the company’s supplier list paints a different tale.
Luxshare Precision Industry, AcBel Polytech, and Lens Technology are three Amazon suppliers said to have employed forced labor directly. GoerTek and Hefei BOE Optoelectronics, for example, are supplied by manufacturers that have been linked to forced labor.
What are China’s labor camps like?
On the outskirts of Hotan in China’s northern Xinjiang region, a facility considered to be a re-education camp where primarily Muslim ethnic minorities are held. (Getty)
Workers from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, a largely Muslim region in western China, are transferred to companies in other areas of the nation under schemes dubbed “labour transfers” in China.
According to experts, these initiatives are often coercive and are linked to a Chinese network of mass detention and reeducation facilities.
Uyghur employees are not permitted to leave production premises or return home on their own volition in at least some circumstances.
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) has conducted extensive study on the forced labor of the Uighur community in China’s Xinjiang area, uncovering linkages to large well-known businesses.
These include: Adidas, Gap, H&M, Microsoft, Nike, Sony, Victoria’s Secret and Zara.
According to Amnesty International, China holds around 1 million detainees in internment camps, where they are supposedly coerced to abandon their faith and compelled to work in factories.
‘Amazon complies with all laws and regulations in all countries where it operates, and we require suppliers to follow our Supply Chain Standards,’ the business stated in a statement to Metro.co.uk.
‘We treat claims of human rights violations, especially those involving the use or export of forced labor, very seriously.’
‘We take action if we uncover or receive evidence of forced labor.’
In 2021, the United States and the European Union implemented sanctions on China, prohibiting any imports from Xinjiang unless enterprises could demonstrate that they were not involved in forced labor.
In reaction to alleged abuses of the Muslim Uyghur minority community, the US Senate enacted a measure in July 2021 banning imports from China’s Xinjiang province.
In addition to utilizing forced labor sources, the investigation claims that Amazon continues to sell third-party items despite the US prohibition on Xinjiang cotton products. One product page, for example, describes a pair of towels as “100% China Xinjiang long-staple cotton.”
According to the research, Chinese Amazon sellers simply deleted references to ‘Xinjiang’ in product descriptions with ‘no visible change to the underlying items,’ raising concerns about Amazon’s oversight of such vendors.
MORE: A Uyghur man serving a 25-year sentence in China warns his wife, “Don’t forget me.”
MORE: A whistleblower claims China utilizes artificial intelligence to understand the emotions of Uyghur detainees.
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