France investigates fashion retailers to cover up “crimes against humanity” in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region

Paris-France prosecutors have begun investigating four fashion retailers suspected of concealing “crimes against humanity” in China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, judicial sources said Thursday.

Sources said the procedure was related to accusations against China regarding the treatment of minority Muslim Uighurs in the region, including the use of forced labor.

China has denied all accusations of abuse in the region.

Sources say Reuters Uniqlo France, a division of Fast Retailing in Japan, Inditex, the owner of Zara, SMCP in France, and Skeshers are the subjects of the investigation, confirming a report by the French media website Mediapart. did.

“After filing the complaint, an investigation was initiated on crimes against humanity within the counter-terrorism public prosecutor’s office,” a source said.

France has a central office established in 2013 to combat crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes.

Epoch Times Photo
Artux Vocational Skills Education and Training Service Center, believed to be a re-education camp for mostly Muslim minorities, north of Kashgar, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, northwestern China, June 2, 2019 Building. image)

Inditex dismissed the allegations of legal complaints, implemented strict traceability controls, and added that it would fully cooperate with the French investigation.

“Inditex does not tolerate any form of forced labor and has established policies and procedures to prevent this practice from occurring in the supply chain,” the company said in a statement.

SMCP said it would work with French authorities to prove that the allegations were false.

“SMCP works with suppliers around the world and claims that there are no direct suppliers in the areas mentioned in the media,” he added, adding that SMCP regularly audits suppliers.

Fast Retailing said in a statement from Tokyo that there was no contact from French authorities and that the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region had no production partners.

“If notified, we will fully cooperate with the investigation to reaffirm that there is no forced labor in the supply chain,” he said.

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A farmer harvesting cotton in the field during the harvest season in Hami, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, northwestern China, on September 20, 2015. (STR / AFP via Getty Images)

The company lost its appeal with US Customs in May after the shipment of UNIQLO men’s shirts was seized on suspicion of violating the cotton ban in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

SKECHERS said it did not comment on the proceedings in dispute. Reuters referred to a March 2021 statement stating that it maintains a strict supplier code of conduct.

Two non-governmental organizations (NGOs) filed complaints against multinational corporations in France in early April for forced labor and concealment of crimes against humanity.

UN experts and rights groups estimate that more than one million people have been detained in recent years in vast camps in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in western China, centered on Uighur and other Muslim minorities. ..

Many former prisoners say they have been trained and abused in ideology. Rights groups say camps have been used as a source of low-paying, compulsory labor.

China initially denied the existence of a camp, but later said it was a vocational training center designed to combat extremism. In late 2019, China said all the people in the camp had “graduated.”

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On October 10, 2019, you’ll see the Nike Store selling NBA Los Angeles Lakers sportswear in Beijing, China. (TingshuWang / Reuters)

Several Western brands, including H & M, Burberry and Nike, were hit by a consumer boycott in China after expressing concern about reports of forced labor in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

In March, the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom and Canada imposed sanctions on Chinese authorities for human rights abuses in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Beijing immediately retaliated with its own punitive measures.

This year’s Human Rights Watch documented that it could constitute a crime against humanity committed in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

By Benoit Van Overstraeten

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