At least eight global companies identified as benefitting from China’s enslavement of Muslim minorities published statements celebrating Juneteenth, an American holiday marking the end of slavery in the country.
A Breitbart News analysis found that the eight companies are Abercrombie & Fitch, Amazon, Apple, FILA, General Motors, Google, Nike, and Ralph Lauren.
Three other companies identified as benefitting from forced labor by Muslim minorities in China — Sony, H&M, and Gap — were more cautious in their approach, issuing statements on social media against hatred and racism and in support of diversity on the days ahead of July 19 without mentioning Juneteenth.
Breitbart News gleaned the name of the companies commemorating Juneteenth from a list of over 80 identified by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), a non-partisan think tank, as “directly or indirectly benefiting from the use” of Uyghurs working in factories across China “under conditions that strongly suggest forced labor.”
This report found overlap between the 80-plus companies identified by the think tank and the lists of companies that vowed to observe Juneteenth this year, compiled by news outlets and Hella Creative, self-described as a Bay Area collective and cited by several media outlets.
While about a handful of the named companies honored Juneteenth as a paid holiday, others observed June 19 with moments of silence, writing posts on social media marking the day, canceling meetings, offering learning opportunities, and making donations to causes affecting the black community. The Google and Apple calendars also marked Juneteenth as a holiday.
A significant number of the 83 companies identified by ASPI did come out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Also known as Black Independence Day, June 19 or Juneteenth is the date identified as marking the emancipation of the last remaining slaves in the U.S. in 1865, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation legally ended slavery.
People and businesses across the United States commemorate the day, but the federal government does not recognize Juneteenth as an official holiday. Nevertheless, some presidents, from Bill Clinton to Donald Trump, have made presidential proclamations and remarks to ceremoniously honor a certain group or call attention to specific issues or events, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) noted early this month.
U.S. lawmakers from both parties have also reportedly passed resolutions, made floor statements, issued press releases, or entered specific remarks into the congressional record to recognize June 19 as Juneteenth.
After being celebrated primarily by black American communities since 1865, the vast majority (47) of states and the District of Columbia recognized Juneteenth as an official state holiday or observance, with Texas leading the way in 1980, CRS pointed out.
Juneteenth, particularly the push for celebrating it as an official holiday, has gained more prominence and support among government officials and corporations as the nation continues to rally behind the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of the protests and riots over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Some of those observing Juneteenth in light of the Black Lives Matter movement’s push to the fore are benefitting from slavery half a world away, the ASPI study revealed.
Issued in March, the study, titled “Uyghurs for Sale,” accused Beijing of forcing Uyghur Muslims to work at 27 factories across China that are in the supply chains of 83 prominent global companies, including some commemorating Juneteenth like Apple, Nike, and Google.
Citing the ASPI study, Breitbart News reported:
The Chinese Communist Party encouraged these companies to “hire” Uyghur slaves instead of locals. Advertisements online using racist imagery of cartoons wearing traditional Uyghur clothing promised “qualified, secure, and reliable” government “workers” for willing factories.
Echoing human rights groups, the United States and the United Nations have determined that Beijing is holding at least one million people belonging to Muslim minority groups, predominantly Uyghurs, in concentration camps where detainees undergo psychological communist indoctrination and are forced to renounce their religion.
Beijing’s effort is part of a genocide campaign against Uyghurs and other ethnic minority Muslims who primarily live in Xinjiang, the largest province in China that borders several Muslim countries.
At the camps, minorities are subjected “to political indoctrination and forced marching; overcrowding; poor quality food; and torture, including in the forms of medical neglect and maltreatment, waterboarding, sleep deprivation, lack of adequate clothing in cold temperatures, and other forms of abuse,” the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China noted in 2018.
Most of the concentration camps are located in Xinjiang.
Beijing moved a large number, at least 80,000, Muslim minorities who “graduated” from the re-education centers to factories across the country, ASPI reported.
The think tank noted:
ASPI’s research has identified 83 foreign and Chinese companies directly or indirectly benefiting from the use of Uyghur workers outside Xinjiang through potentially abusive labour transfer programs as recently as 2019.
A further 54 companies are implicated in what could be forced labour schemes within Xinjiang itself —some of which overlap with the 83 companies linked to forced Uyghur labour outside of Xinjiang.
Breitbart News’s analysis explicitly focused on the 83 companies outside Xinjiang.
China’s relocation of Uyghurs to factories outside Xinjiang came after an international uproar over Beijing’s enslavement of Muslim minorities and the Chinese coronavirus pandemic that devastated China’s economy.
ASPI’s report echoed assessments by survivors, human rights groups, and media accounts that accuse Beijing of using “slave laborers” from its Muslim minority population to boost its ailing economy.
Beijing claims that the concentration camps are vocational centers aimed at combating the “three evils” of religious extremism, ethnic separatism, and violent terrorism.
China has repeatedly denied assertions that it is enslaving Muslim minorities at the concentration camps or forced labor factories.
Beijing also denies the relocation of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities to factories across China.
Update: Following the publication of this report, Abercrombie & Fitch stressed to Breitbart News that, as of 2020, “we do not believe we source from either of the factories” listed in the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) study as benefitting from Uyghur slave labor. ASPI included a similar update after publishing its study in early March, but Abercrombie & Fitch is still included in the list of 83 companies that benefitted from Uyghur slave labor.