France investigates fashion businesses in connection to accusations of forced Uyghur labor

by Anne Kader

Image: Céline Martin / Pixabay




In a recent interview on BFM-TV French MEP Raphaël Glucksmann (Place Publique) said, that France must ban products linked to Uyghur forced labor. Several multinational companies in the French market use Chinese subcontractors with links to Chinese concentration camps and coerced labor. The system uses slaves, not employees, Glucksmann continues. 


Four global fashion shops are being investigated by French authorities on suspicion of hiding and profiting from crimes against humanity in the Uyghur Autonomous region by sourcing goods produced using forced Uyghur labor, according to Mediapart.


Judicial sources have confirmed to French media the investigation concerned Uniqlo France, owned by Fast Retailing; Inditex, which owns Zara and Bershka; SMCP, the owner of the French fashion labels Sandro and Maje; and the footwear company Skechers.


The investigation follows a complaint filed in early April 2021 by campaigners such as the anti-corruption group Sherpa, the Uyghur Institute of Europe, and an Uyghur victim of a Chinese camp.


China’s treatment of Uyghurs, who make up just under half of the western region’s 25 million inhabitants, has become a source of diplomatic conflict between Beijing and the west.


United Nations experts and rights groups estimate that more than a million people, mainly Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities, have been detained in recent years in a vast system of internment camps. China denies all allegations of abuse in the region. Former inmates have said they were subject to ideological training, abuse, and forced labor.


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