U.S. Customs and Border officials seized a shipment containing 13 tons – not pounds, tons – of human hair shipped in from China believed to have been produced by - and perhaps even forcibly taken from - Uyghurs being held in the Chinese government's concentration camps.
According to reports, federal customs officers in Newark, N.J., intercepted the shipment of weaves and wigs, valued at about $800,000, and are holding it in custody, saying they believe it’s linked to forced labor camps where the Chinese government has been brutalizing its Uyghur population.
“If this highly suspicious, 13-ton shipment of human hair indeed turns out to be linked to the Uyghur concentration camps, then this is a new low – even for the Chinese Communist Party – and they will have to answer to the world community for their actions,” said National Security Council spokesman John Ullyot.
“The production of these goods constitutes a very serious human rights violation, and the detention order is intended to send a clear and direct message to all entities seeking to do business with the United States that illicit and inhumane practices will not be tolerated in U.S. supply chains,” said Brenda Smith, executive assistant commissioner for the CBP Office of Trade.
But not only do officials suspect the products were produced and packaged through forced labor, there’s suspicion that the hair itself may have been forcibly taken from the heads of Uyghur women.
From Refinery29, an affiliate of VICE Media:
The human rights violation is especially horrifying when you consider that women leave their hair long in accordance with Uyghur cultural traditions. With no recorded history of people selling their hair in the region, suspicions are high as to whether raw hair may be coming from detainees in the XUAR’s network of internment camps. Women formally held in these camps spoke with RFA and described having their heads shaved immediately upon entering the detention facilities. They could not account for what happened to their hair after it was shaved off.
MRCTV has detailed the Chinese oppression of the Uyghurs, a minority population of Turkic-speaking Muslims who largely live in the country’s Xinjiang region after it was annexed by China in 1949. The Community Chinese government has long been accused of brutalizing the group through forced labor, concentration camps and detention. Not long after the coronavirus first made an appearance in China, reports began circulating that the Chinese government was relocating detained Uyghurs and forcing them to work in factories to make up for the loss of workforce as millions of Chinese citizens were pushed into quarantine, allegedly to contain the virus.