US urged to reintroduce bill banning Uighur forced-labour products
Over one million Uighurs and other Turkic-speaking Muslim minorities are believed to be held in internment camps in Xinjiang under the pretext of re-education and stamping out extremism.
Rights groups believe than many Uighurs have been forcibly assigned to factory work in the province, including on cotton farms.
On Thursday, the US House of Representative introduced a bipartisan bill banning all imports from the region unless they are proven to have not been produced with forced labour.
A version of the bill introduced in a senate session in September stalled but the current legislation is similar one reintroduced last month.
It authorises the US president to sanction anyone responsible for labour trafficking of Uighurs and other Muslims. It also requires financial disclosures by US companies working with Chinese firms engaged in abuses.
"Since last September, we've sent over 15,000 emails to Congress urging them to pass this bill swiftly with no change in language," Zaineb Aboudd, co-director of the Free Uighur Now, a student-led coalition, said.
"Free Uighur Now will continue to advocate tirelessly every step of the way to turn this crucial bill into law." she added.
While the legislation has had strong bipartisan support, congressional aides say it has been targeted by lobbying firms with supply-chain linked to Xinjiang.
Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas blasted corporations for resisting the bills.
"I think it’s disgraceful that some corporate leaders in America have spent the last year lobbying against sanctions on Chinese officials for using slave labor in Xinjiang province, and they don’t want to have accountability for their own supply chains in China," Cotton said.