How the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act Became Law

Editor’s Note: This is the first of five installments in a story documenting the creation and passage of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, the most important component of which goes into effect Tuesday. The second installment is available here, and the third installment is available here. The story is based on more than 21 hours of interviews with more than two dozen people involved, including lawmakers, staff, and human rights advocates. The rest of the story will be published in installments each weekday this week. Later this week, The Dispatch will release an audio version of the story. Dispatch members can also download a PDF of the full report here.

Introduction

Gulzira Auelkhan sat in a room in Midland, Texas, with the people who helped her escape a genocide.

Across from her were American federal law enforcement agents. They had traveled to her new Texas hometown to ask about the roughly 15 months she spent in 2017 and 2018 in concentration camps in Xinjiang, a northwest region of China. They also wanted to know more about her experience being forced to work in a textile factory by Chinese authorities.

With Kazakh activist Serikzhan Bilash translating, Auelkhan, an ethnic Kazakh, told the Americans about the horrors she faced in the camps. She told them about the gloves she and hundreds of other women had to sew for long hours each day, under harsh working conditions. She told them about being driven to the factory early each morning, when it was still dark outside. They were expected to sew 20 pairs of gloves each day, she told them, with the threat of punishment looming if they could not meet quotas.

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Comments (23)
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  • Wow. Thank you for doing this Haley! I will take my time reading and digesting the rest. I’d say that, “I look forward to reading it,” but I’m not sure that’s the right way to put it. It’s good and valuable and important journalism but a terribly sad topic.

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  • And on to Part 2. Thanks, Haley!

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  • As others have said, this is terrific reporting -- the kind of in-depth and well-written reporting we so rarely get these days (outside of The Dispatch :-) ). The paragraphs leading up to "It’s a humanitarian nightmare, inconceivable in cruelty and scale" paint the picture of a truly awful life situation. Thank you so much for this work.

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  • This type of in depth but very readable reporting (w/o sensational aspects, but well researched truth) is paramount and part of why the Dispatch and Uphill are important

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  • Great piece. Thanks!

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  • Stayed up late to read the whole PDF. Absolutely fantastic reporting; thank you for producing this. I feel like I’m taking advantage with the lifetime membership at this point, to be honest.

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  • Thank you for reporting on this important issue.

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  • Really excellent reporting. I look forward to reading future installments.

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  • Haley, and the rest of the team, well done.

    I have felt good about being a Dispatch member from the beginning, and reporting like this makes me eager to see what the team reports on next.

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