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Large solar panels are seen in a solar power plant in Hami, northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, on May 8, 2013. (STR/AFP via Getty Images) British researchers say the world’s production of solar panels is being fueled by forced labor from Uyghur Muslims in the Chinese province of Xinjiang .
An investigation by Sheffield Hallam University says some 45 percent of the world’s supply of a key component in the panels—polysilicon—comes from Xinjiang and is obtained through a vast system of coercion involving the Uyghur ethnic minority.
In Broad Daylight, the report from the university’s Helena Kennedy Center for International Justice, says the world’s four biggest panel manufacturers use polysilicon tainted by forced labor, and urges producers to source the substance from elsewhere.
It cited an official Chinese government report published in November which documented the “placement” of 2.6 million “minoritized” citizens in jobs in farms and factories in Xinjiang and elsewhere in the country through state-sponsored “surplus labor” and “labor transfer” initiatives.
“The (Chinese) government claims that these programs are in accordance with PRC (People’s Republic of China) law and that workers are engaged voluntarily, in a concerted government-supported effort to alleviate poverty,” the report says.
“However, significant evidence—largely drawn from government […]
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