Retail store H&M has announced that they are pulling out of the Xinjiang region of China over concerns about the forced labor of the Muslim Uighur minority, the International Business Times reported Wednesday.
A study by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute said that because of their yarn factory in the region, H&M “directly or indirectly benefiting from the use of Uyghur workers outside Xinjiang through potentially abusive labor transfer programs,” according to the International Business Times report. A total of 82 companies were named in the study. (RELATED: US Seizes 13 Tons Of Human Hair Suspected To Be From Uighur Forced Labor Camps In China)
“Contrary to the report by Australian Strategic Policy Institute, we have never had a business relationship with a mill owned by the yarn producer Huafu Fashion Co in Anhui province where workers from [Xinjiang] allegedly have been employed, nor with their Aksu unit in [Xinjiang],” H&M said in a statement.
“We do, however, have an indirect business relationship with one mill (in Shangyu, Zhejiang province) belonging to Huafu Fashion Co, which supplies some of our suppliers with a specific yarn,” the statement said. “While there are no indications for forced labour in the Shangyu mill, we have decided to, until we get more clarity around allegations of forced labour, phase out our indirect business relationship with Huafu Fashion Co, regardless of unit and province, within the next 12 months.”
Uighurs have been sent to forced labor camps in the Xinjiang region of China and have been the target of human rights abuses, according to numerous reports. Lacoste also pulled out of the region after labor rights groups alleged that their gloves were sewn by Uighurs who were also forced to go through ideological and behavioral re-education.
The United States recently moved to block tomato and cotton imports from the region over concerns about forced labor and the abuse of Uighurs.