VW Board Member in Xinjiang/East Turkistan

VW Board Member in Xinjiang/East Turkistan

Press Release – For Immediate Release
28 February 2023
Contact: World Uyghur Congress www.uyghurcongress.org
0049 (0) 89 5432 1999 or [email protected]

On Tuesday, the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) and the Society for Threatened Peoples (GfbV) on strongly criticized the circumstances of VW board member Ralf Brandstätter’s visit and the group’s attitude towards the VW plant in East Turkistan/Xinjiang and Uyghur forced labour in its supply chains.

According to his own statement, VW board member Ralf Brandstätter was at the VW plant in Ürümchi, East Turkistan/Xinjiang, from February 16 to 17. The Volkswagen Group only announced Brandstätter’s visit after it had taken place. Brandstätter had been able to talk to workers on site, including Uyghurs and Kazakhs.

“There are serious doubts about the extent to which Mr. Brandstätter was able to get an objective picture of the situation on the ground, especially since the visit was most likely planned and coordinated jointly with the Chinese authorities. Volkswagen must not become a cover for the Chinese government’s genocide against the Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples,” says Haiyuer Kuerban, head of the WUC office in Berlin. Brandstätter did not even comment on the allegations of Uyghur forced labour in VW supply chains. Instead, he emphasized that the plant in East Turkistan was not up for debate.

The last time the media and politicians had independent access to the plant was ten years ago. In the immediate vicinity of the Volkswagen plant, millions of Uyghurs are brainwashed, raped and tortured. According to the scientific service of the German Parliament, the crimes against Uyghurs can be described as genocide. “The question here is really what other reasons Volkswagen needs to withdraw from the region. The ignorance of the Volkswagen Group towards the suffering of millions of Uyghurs is shameful,” said Haiyuer Kuerban, head of the WUC office in Berlin.

Extensive research by Sheffield Hallam University shows that suppliers to the VW plant are involved in the Chinese government’s state labour transfer programs. Volkswagen denies this, referring to its own sustainability principles. “Even Mr. Brandstätter will not believe that these conversations in the immediate vicinity of the infamous internment camps were free and independent. Since there are no independent audits in the region, Volkswagen must finally face the consequences and leave the region. It must also be transparent about how it investigates reports of forced labour in its supply chains and what consequences it is prepared to draw. Of course, this also concerns the Chinese supplier companies located in and outside Xinjiang/East Turkistan, ” said Hanno Schedler, GfbV speaker for genocide prevention and responsibility to protect. “Lower Saxony’s politicians must also abandon their reticence and, as a major shareholder in VW, address the crimes of Chinese policy in the region.”

“The secrecy around the visit and the continuous downplaying of the genocide and Uyghur forced labour in the supply chains show Volkswagen’s strategy of ‘business as usual’. German policymakers must increase pressure on Volkswagen to ensure that the group complies with the standards of the German Supply Chain Act and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights,” Kuerban demanded.

You can reach Haiyuer Kuerban at 0176 80569329.

You can reach Hanno Schedler at [email protected] or 0551/49906-15.