British retail company Marks & Spencer (M&S) formally signed a call to action to end the forced labor of ethnic group Uighurs in the Xinjiang region in China on Jan. 6.
M&S publicly announced that it signed the “Coalition to End Uighur Forced Labor’s Call to Action,” which is supported by over 300 human rights and civil society organizations, as well as labor unions, to end the abuses against the Uighurs.
In a statement, M&S said it signed the call to action “to help drive meaningful change at scale in the Xinjiang region,” which produces about 85% of China’s cotton and about 20% of the world’s cotton.
“At M&S, sourcing ethically and sustainably is core to how we do business and the promise we make to our customers; thatâs why we do not source cotton from Xinjiang,” M&S Managing Director Richard Pride said.
“When it comes to sustainable and ethical clothing, we can only achieve real change at scale by working with others,” Price also said.
Anti-Slavery International Chief Executive Jasmine OâConnor welcomed the move and called for other brands to do the same.
A report from Washington-based think thank last December revealed that at least 570,000 people from ethnic minorities in the region had been forced “into cotton-picking operations through the governmentâs coercive labor training and transfer scheme.”
Reports said that over one million Uighurs are held in concentration camps in the remote northwestern region where human rights violations, including torture, take place.
The Chinese government denied the claims and said that the camps were vocational education and training centers.
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