Beijing (China) | Jagran News Desk: Over fourteen million confirmed COVID cases and 600,000 deaths after, a report has emerged that various Chinese companies are using unpaid Uighur labour to produce the masks and other protective gear used to fight the pandemic globally. The labour is being outsourced from Chinese Communist Party-run contentious ‘training centres’ in Xinjiang province, which Rights activists worldwide have said are essentially ‘political re-education camps’ that continue to incarcerate over one million people from Uighur and Turkic Muslim communities in Xinjiang province.

According to a New York Times report, before the COVID-19 became widespread in China and beyond, there were only four companies in the Xinjiang province that were producing the masks and protective gear. By June 30, the number of such companies grew to 51, the report said by quoting China’s official records in its National Medical Products Administration. At least 17 of these companies participate in the Chinese Communist Party sponsored labour program specified at Uighurs and other ethnic Muslim minorities.

The report says that it found more than 100 Uighurs working in Hubei province, the place from where the pandemic reportedly started, who were making protective gear that was being exported to as far as the USA’s Georgia state.

“There are these coercive quotas that cause people to be put into factory work when they don’t want to be,” Amr Lehr, director of the Human Rights Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies was quoted as saying. “And that could be considered forced under international law,” he added.

China publicises this contentious program as “Vocational education and training” program, reportedly to reduce poverty.

Earlier last week, drone footage, reportedly from Xinjiang province had gone viral, that showed a host of people being forced by the police to be loaded into train cars and be taken “somewhere” else.

Chinese Ambassador to the UK, when confronted about the same in a news program, said that such ‘transfer of prisoners’ keeps on happening all the time, and one shouldn’t worry much about it. Netizens drew the parallels between the drone footage from China and similar methods adopted by the Germans to persecute the Jewish community in Europe during the Second World War when the Jewish community used to be rounded up and sent to Concentration camps through goods trains.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma