A shipment of Uyghur hair?

Domestic News

The U.S. blocked a shipment of hair extensions and accessories from China on the grounds that the products may have been made using forced labor in an internment camp in Xinjiang.

Uyghur women leave a “re-education center” in Kashgar, Xinjiang, in 2018. Note the short hair on the women departing the center. REUTERS/Thomas Peter.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency yesterday said that it had “blocked an $800,000 shipment of hair extensions and accessories from China on suspicions that the products were made with forced labor.” The move is the result of a “June order against a Xinjiang-based company suspected of using prison labor and forced labor.”

It seems likely that the hair was taken without consent from detainees in Xinjiang’s internment camps. Journalist Megha Rajagopalan, who wrote some of the earliest reports on the atrocities in Xinjiang and is now persona non grata in China, commented: “I’ve personally interviewed several female ex-detainees from the Xinjiang camps who told me that among other degrading treatment, their long hair was chopped to chin length without their consent.”  Rajagopalan details the story of one of those women here.

SupChina’s Xinjiang columnist, Darren Byler, has further evidence: “From my field notes with former detainees: ‘One of the moments I see in my mind the most often were the lines of Kazakh and Uyghur women who had their hair cut like Liu Hulan. They cut off their beautiful hair. There were elderly women there with short white hair, exposed.’”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo yesterday told American CEOs to pay attention to a government notice “warning U.S. companies about the risks faced from maintaining supply chains associated with human rights abuses” in Xinjiang.