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Press Release: VW Annual General Meeting (May 29): Forced Labor in Supply Chains Must Finally Be Fully Investigated!

Press Release: VW Annual General Meeting (May 29): Forced Labor in Supply Chains Must Finally Be Fully Investigated!

Press Release – For Immediate Release 
29 May 2024 
Contact: World Uyghur Congress www.uyghurcongress.org
+49 89 5432 1999 or [email protected]

On the occasion of Volkswagen’s Annual General Meeting on Wednesday (May 29), the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP), the Association of Critical Shareholders, and the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) are demanding Volkswagen to “finally live up to its responsibility regarding compliance with the human rights of the Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples in the northwest of China.” “Volkswagen AG must no longer remain silent about the genocide crimes against the Uyghurs committed right in front of the factory gates – or the corporation will become an accomplice to a criminal and minority-hostile system,” the civil society organizations stated on Tuesday.

Despite evidence for the human rights violations in the Uyghur region of East Turkestan / Xinjiang, Volkswagen is still operating its plant in Urumqi as well as a test track in Turpan – in a joint venture with the Chinese automotive company SAIC. “Those who are responsible have been continuously ignoring all indications and evidence for forced labor. Volkswagen is examining various options and is no longer ruling out withdrawing from the controversial region of Urumqi, but has so far not drawn any specific consequences. The corporation must be transparent about whether and how the Chinese supply chains will be audited,” demanded Gheyyur Kuerban, Head of the office of the WUC in Berlin. It also remains unclear whether the Group’s Executive Board and Supervisory Board are discussing the human rights
problems in China, and what measures are being taken. VW will only be able to restore the civil society’s trust by taking tangible measures,” Kuerban emphasized.

“We are demanding VW to issue a public statement as to when the company was informed about the use of forced labor in the construction of the SAIC-VW test track stated Jasna Causevic, STP expert on genocide prevention and the responsibility to protect. The test track was built in the period from 2015 to 2019 by the fourth office of the China Railway Engineering Corporation (CREC) and SAIC-VW. According to China expert Adrian Zenz, forcibly relocated Uyghur workers were employed there in the scope of so-called “poverty alleviation projects.” The corporation was also actively involved with state-run teams that monitored Uyghur families and organized and conducted assimilatoric activities to ensure “ethnic unity.”

“Volkswagen willingly served as a fig leaf for the Chinese government in the region for years, despite the danger of becoming ever more entangled in its crimes,” Causevic criticized. In the scope of the new “In China, for China” strategy, Volkswagen is planning to “focus more on local, China-specific developments, speed, greater regionalization, and new strong partnerships.” “These developments are very worrying. Volkswagen is clearly giving in to the rules and norms of the Chinese government. The strategy can only be understood as a surrender to China’s supremacy – without considering human right and minority rights,” Causevic added.

Contact:
Gheyyur Kuerban (WUC): [email protected] or +49 176 80569329
Tilman Massa (Association of Critical Shareholders): [email protected] or +49 221 599 56 47
Jasna Causevic (STP): [email protected] or +49 551 49906-16