URAP’s statement regarding International Cotton Day
October 7, 2021
Today, on International Cotton Day, we reflect on the cotton industry. Likely, there is not a single household in which you wouldn’t find cotton-based linens or clothing. Many of these products originate in China, which supplies more than twenty percent of the global cotton supply. What you might not know, is that most of these made-in-China products are tainted by the use of forced Uyghur Slave labour.
Any cotton product originating from China has a ninety percent probability of being grown, cultivated, harvested and processed in this region. Why is this problematic? Per a US State Department advisory “The People’s Republic of China government continues its horrific abuses in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and elsewhere in China, targeting Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, and ethnic Kyrgyz who are predominantly Muslim, and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups. These abuses include widespread, state-sponsored forced labor and intrusive surveillance, forced population control measures and separation of children from families, mass detention, and other human rights abuses amidst ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity.”
These egregious crimes were first acknowledged by the Canadian Parliament on February 22, 2021, via a unanimous vote, with six countries having since followed in Canada’s footsteps. Subsequent to the vote, Canada joined with ally countries on June 13, 2021, at a G7 summit in a commitment to eliminate products produced by Uyghur forced labour from global supply chains. Despite this declaration, the Canadian Custom and Border Service Agency has yet to seize first shipment coming out of China carrying products tainted with Uyghur forced Labour.
By contrast, the US has issued a full ban on the importation of all products originating from China’s Uyghur region, while In parallel, the European Commission and the European External Action Services published due diligence guidelines to address the risk of forced labour being involved in European business operations and supply chains.
The Canadian government must address the complicity of Canadian businesses, investments and individuals in China’s ongoing genocide. Despite Global Affairs Canada’s January 2021 advisory urging companies to exercise due diligence and Canada’s G7 commitment, Canada has failed to introduce enforceable measures or policies to remove products tainted by the use of Uyghur forced labour from its consumer market. This inaction is both unacceptable and a sign of moral corruption.
“Parliamentary committee’s policy recommendations on Uyghur forced labour and Canada’s commitment during the recent G7 should carry some meaning. Canada should not be used backdoor by China to ship out its tainted products that were already banned by the US”, said, Mehmet Tohti, executive director of the URAP.
Canada must also introduce the Uyghur Forced Labour Prohibition Act (UFLPA) to address this issue via concrete and immediate measures based on the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development’s 15 recommendations. Now is the time for our government to fulfill the recommendations put forth by Parliament. Specifically, that “…Global Affairs Canada enhance its import control mechanisms to ensure products made with forced labour are not entering the Canadian market… including strong punitive measures for individuals and companies that benefit from the use of forced labour.”
The Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project urges the government of Canada to consider UFLPA a high priority item for both banning from the Canadian market all Chinese products tainted by the use of Uyghur forced labour, as well as seizing such shipments, including cotton, tomato and silica products from the Uyghur region.
Mehmet Tohti Executive Director Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project
www.urap.ca email@example.com 613 261 8512