The US government has been focusing on Chinese factories supplying thousands of kilograms of hair to the United States for a long time. According to the Trump administration, Chinese companies use forced labor camps in the western Xinjiang Autonomous Region to produce hair products. states CNN. Detained members of ethnic minorities, mostly Uyghurs, are not only supposed to produce exported goods, but in the integration camps they lose their hair themselves, from which the products are then made.
According to human rights organizations, China is holding up to two million Uighurs and members of other ethnic minorities in internment camps. However, Beijing has resisted the allegations, calling the camps “training centers” and arguing that capacity building is part of a program to “alleviate poverty” in the region. In the statistics of exports from Xinjiang to the USA, hair is the third most common item, after chemical products and minerals.
In September, the U.S. Customs Department issued an order to detain all incoming hair shipments from Lop County Hair Products’ industrial site in southern Xinjiang Province. This was the third similar order this year, the last disruption was caused by the June detention of a supply of thirteen tons of human hair worth $ 800,000 (over 18 million crowns). The products were supplied to the United States by Lop County Meixin Hair Products. Similarly, US customs officers detained the May delivery of Hetian Haolin Hair Accessories products. Both companies are currently being investigated by the US Immigration and Customs Office.
However, Xinjiang authorities dismiss the suspicion and said in a response to CNN that the US authorities’ practices strongly “condemned” it as a “barbaric act” against “private enterprises” that “provide local minorities with jobs and help them get rid of poverty “.
American companies, which purchase hair products from China, are beginning to respond to the growing number of detained deliveries and, above all, suspicions of forced labor. The US Customs Office also called for this in the summer. “It is imperative that US importers ensure that the integrity of their supply chain meets the humane and ethical standards of the US government and consumers,” Brenda Smith of the agency told AP.
Business relations with the Chinese company Hetian Haolin Hair Accessories, for example, have already been interrupted by the American I&I Hair, which stopped taking goods after learning of the accusation of using forced labor. “I don’t think a lot of people in our industry have spent time dealing with internment camps in China,” William Choe, marketing manager at I&I Hair, told CNN.
Another American company, OS Hair, reacted in the same way. “We were shocked to learn about forced, sometimes child labor and internment camps related to our products,” the company said. The collaboration was to end in April, with hair products to go to the company through the South Korean company Selim Fiber. But CEO Selim Fiber claims he did not know about forced labor.
CNN managed to contact several women who managed to escape from the internment camps and who experienced hair shaving in the camps. “They cut our hair completely,” CNN quotes Uyghurka Gulbachar Jalilova, who managed to escape through Kazakhstan to Turkey. “I used to have long hair, there is nothing left of it,” says Džalilová.
Ethnic Uyghurka Zumrat Dawut, who currently lives in Washington, shared a similar experience for reporters. “I had long hair up to my waist,” says Dawut. “The next day they took me to a separate office, where they had a tray with a razor and scissors and cut my hair,” Dawut adds. According to Dawut, all imprisoned women were cut in this way, which “upset and stressed them”. She doesn’t know what happened to her hair. But whenever he sees hairstyles from China in American stores, it “hurts her heart.”
Many hours of interrogation, denial of one’s faith, sexual violence and death – the reality of the camps is described by the American CNN on the basis of testimonies and leaked documents. According to the Chinese government, it is running a “deradicalization program” in the camps aimed at potential extremists.
In February, the government escaped documents but they uncovered the methods by which the authorities placed residents in camps. Most people went to internment camps to exceed the allowed number of offspring. The second most common reason for detention is the evaluation of a person as a “potential threat”. The detainees are also in the camps due to a criminal record, holding a passport without visiting abroad or illegal religious expressions. You can end up in detention even if one of your family members has a criminal record, covers your face, wears a long beard or has taken an illegal pilgrimage.