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Australia Australian Uyghurs throw support behind Senator's bill to ban imports from Xinjiang

12:05  27 april  2021
12:05  27 april  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

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Representatives of Australia's Uyghur community have spoken out in support of proposed legislation to ban imports from the Xinjiang region of China in response to claims of forced labour.

Independent senator Rex Patrick tabled the bill which would amend Australia's Customs Act to prohibit the importation of all goods from the region plus any made through the use of forced labour from elsewhere in China.

China has reportedly established scores of forced labour camps along with indoctrination centres in the Xinjiang region, which some Uyghurs in the region call East Turkistan.

Senator Patrick has also been pushing the federal government to officially label the Chinese government's treatment of Xinjiang's Uyghurs as "genocide".

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Australian Uyghur Tangritagh Women's Association president Ramila Chanisheff today told the committee every Uyghur in Australia had family in labour camps in the region and Australia had been too slow to respond to reports of forced labour.

"Whether in Australia or internationally, legislation prohibiting and penalising the use of slave labour must be implemented and done so urgently," she said.

She said China was using its growing international power and influence to bully countries such as Australia into not speaking out.

"I implore the committee to strengthen the legislative bill to hold companies, industries and their supply chains to account that rely in whole or in part on products made by Uyghur forced labour," she said.

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East Turkistan Australian Association president Nurmuhammad Majid said Uyghurs at labour camps were being forced to work more than 18 hours a day.

Some Australian Uyghurs, including himself, had dozens of family members in the labour camps, he said.

"The Australian Uyghur community has credible testimonies to state that China has used force labour in the region, and this is also supported by the investigations by the Western reporters," he said.

"We strongly demand the Australian government should [pass] this bill to specifically target the supply chains of the Chinese cotton production lines, stop the human rights violations and other atrocities committed by the Chinese government."

Woman allegedly paid 26 cents of 12-hour work day

Uyghur Association of Victoria president Alim Osman said sanctioning China was not only the morally right thing to do, it was in Australia's economic interests.

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Mr Osman cited the example of a former camp resident, now in Kazakhstan, who said she worked at a factory in Xinjiang stitching gloves.

She was paid 26 cents Australian for a 12-hour day making 13 pairs of gloves, he said.

"If the cost of Uyghur labour to make a pair of gloves is two cents Australian, then it's impossible for similar Australian businesses to compete with that particular product in the Australian market," he said.

He added that importing forced labour goods was against Australia's core beliefs and values.

"This is a test between morality and human conscience, and benefiting or profiting through slave labour," he said.

In response to a request for comment, the Chinese embassy in Australia referred the ABC to a virtual press conference last month in which the Chinese Ambassador to Australia Cheng Jingye spoke about sanctions imposed by Canada, the US, UK and US.

"Those countries, while making malicious accusations of China, they imposed sanctions against some Chinese individuals and entities based on groundless disinformation," he said.

Chinese foreign affairs spokesman Zhao Lijian in March said: "There is not a grain of truth in the absurd allegation that there is 'forced labour' in Xinjiang."

"Such an allegation was made to hold back the development of the relevant Chinese side and Chinese companies," he said.

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This is interesting!