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NEW YORK – A leading US human rights body says international apparel brands should consider boycotting all cotton-containing products known to come from the Xinjiang region of China over growing concerns they may have been produced using forced or prison labour. The civil rights group has likened the current situation in Xinjiang to a crime against humanity, and claims the Chinese government’s ongoing ‘re-education’ programme of Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic and religious minorities represents the largest-scale detention of religious minorities since World War II.

Alarmingly for brands sourcing cotton and cotton apparel products from China, the NGO presents detailed evidence to suggest the use of forced, prison and unpaid labour among religious minorities continues to be stepped up and is part of a wider government strategy to create a cheap and compliant minority labour force. This is in turn an important element of China’s economic plans for Xinjiang, which will then be an export hub for the Belt and Road Initiative.

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