Tribune. For months, the situation of Muslim minorities and in particular Uyghurs in Xinjiang province, in northwest China, has worried human rights defenders. Numerous proofs of repression and violations of rights have been reported by non-governmental organizations and specialized United Nations bodies.
According to the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, at least 1 million people have been detained, tortured and exposed to indoctrination and forced assimilation. Among the human rights violations denounced is also forced labor. This situation is a tragedy for the women and men concerned. It is also a scandal and a disgrace.
The time to close our eyes is no longer when, as it is, the unnamable happens. It is the duty of the international community, of the global citizen conscience, of those who have at heart the cause of the rights and dignity of the human person. But it is also that of the economic and business world. Business as usual is no longer an option.
70% of global photovoltaic production
It is indeed impossible to ignore what is happening in Xinjiang and to continue importing goods resulting from the forced labor of women and men whom the Chinese Communist regime has decided to enslave. The economic world cannot stay aside from this debate, which also concerns it. He has a duty of action, by excluding all productions from Xinjiang from the production lines.
This particularly concerns the solar industry. China today accounts for 70% of the world’s photovoltaic production. The polycrystalline silicon and rare earths, necessary for the manufacture of solar panels, come largely from Xinjiang. Xinjiang alone accounts for nearly 50% of the world’s polysilicon production.
However, evidence of forced labor in polysilicon factories has been provided. At a time when corporate social and environmental responsibility is finally essential as a condition for fair and sustainable growth, such a situation is intolerable. The climate crisis will not be solved with disregard for the most basic human rights. No resilience exists without ethical obligation.
Fighting forced labor
What to do ? Calling on solar panel manufacturers to exclude all sourcing from Xinjiang. And do the same with national governments, parliaments and European organizations, to subordinate market access – in particular when it is done through calls for tenders and purchase prices – to the production of intangible proof that the imported goods did not benefit from forced labor.
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