October 29, 2021
Recently, after months of investigative journalism, CBC has revealed its findings on tomato produce from Uyghur region being imported into Canada. As per the report, the investigators found that “some of the world’s biggest grocers, including ones here in Canada, are stocked with tomato products that could be tied to forced labour in Xinjiang, a remote area of western China where Uyghurs are subjected to mass detention, surveillance and torture by the Chinese government, in what many countries have labelled a genocide”.
Although such findings might be revealing to the greater public, they are not surprising at all to the Uyghur-Canadian diaspora. For years, if not for decades, we were alarming our officials in Ottawa on the systematic, institutionalized and wide-spread system of abuse, exploitation of Uyghur and other native Turkic-speaking populations of East Turkistan (aka Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region) under the CCP’s (Chinese Communist Party) regime. We have been warning that Canadians are ending up by indirectly subsidizing the ongoing Uyghur Genocide when consuming imported Uyghur slave produce.
The harsh reality on the ground is that Uyghur farmers have no choice but to labour for free, plant, collect and ship their tomato into China for processing, to be eventually exported overseas.
CBC’s revelation illustrates well the deep level of penetration of the Uyghur slave labour products ending up on the market shelves in Canada.
Despite the Global Affairs advisory from January of this year and a warning that “…reports indicate mass transfers of Uyghur labourers to factories across China where they are enrolled in forced labour programs that taint global supply chains in a variety of industries” and a call to exercise due diligence – not a single shipment was stopped, seized or confiscated in the past ten months since the said statement came into the effect. Canada become safe harbour of products tainted by the use of Uyghur Slave labour.
Contrary to our allies, notably the US, whose Senate has passed a bill that would impose a full ban on ALL imports coming from the Uyghur region, Canadian importation from the Uyghur region has increased at least two-fold in the past year alone.
Canada’s inaction on the Uyghur Genocide is complicity in this crisis. Instead of shifting the blame on businesses, the Government of Canada should cease providing “lip services” and start acting.
URAP is appealing after the GOC (Government of Canada) to fulfill its commitments made during the G7 meeting in UK and address seriously the issue of Uyghur forced labour. Such measures should involve combatting Uyghur forced labour and cleaning up supply chains, not only in the tomato industry but also in others including cotton and polysilicon (solar panels). These are three major export items entering the global markets and derived from the Uyghur region and tainted by slave labour.