March 01, 2022
Actors to depict Uyghurs in shackles and imprisoned by barbed wire as Apple investors vote on forced labor resolution
WHAT: A creative installation using actors to depict Uyghurs shackled and imprisoned behind a wall of barbed wire outside Apple’s flagship store in Washington, D.C. The action is being organized by the campaign group, SumOfUs.
The action will coincide with Apple investors voting on a shareholder proposal about Uyghur forced labor in Apple’s supply chain at the company’s Annual General Meeting on March 4th.
The resolution, filed by SumOfUs members, was prompted by allegations that multiple Apple suppliers are participating in the government of China’s state-run labor program. It asks Apple to produce a report on forced labor in its supply chain and the actions it’s taking to address it.
WHEN: 9.00am east coast time, Friday March 4th
WHERE: 800 Mt Vernon Pl NW, Washington D.C (Google pin)
MORE INFORMATION: Over 180,000 SumOfUs members have signed a petition calling on Apple to stop using Uyghur forced labor in its supply chain.
The protest and shareholder vote comes two months after U.S. lawmakers passed legislation barred imports from the East Turkestan region, where the government of China has inflicted systematic abuses on its Uyghur and other Turkic Muslim populations. Under the new law, companies importing from the region will have to prove that goods are not linked to Uyghur forced labor.
In 2020, independent researchers at the Tech Transparency Project unearthed documents showing that Lens Technology, a longstanding supplier of iPhone components, marshaled the resources of thousands of Uyghurs toiling in the government of China’s forced labor program to support its operations – one of at least nine reported instances since 2017 where Apple’s suppliers were accused of participating in the government of China’s labor program. If these allegations of forced labor in Apple’s supply chain are verified then the company is breaking US law.
Apple has consistently refused to engage or respond to these reports or any similar evidence presented to the company identifying ties to forced labor. In October Apple tried and failed to prevent Apple shareholders from voting on the resolution. But investors are raising concerns about the allegations of forced labor in Apple’s supply chain - the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund announced its intention to vote for the resolution, and major institutional investors in the United Kingdom called for Apple to more fully account for links to forced labor. One of the main proxy advisory firms - Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) - urged Apple investors to vote for the resolution, as did Apple Together, an organization representing Apple workers.
In the shareholder resolution brought by SumOfUs members, they warn that allegations of forced labor represent a glaring risk to Apple’s reputation and could negatively impact its business because Apple could see its products intercepted under the new US law.
The government of China’s brutal mistreatment of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslim minorities has prompted an international outcry, and the U.S. State Department has characterized it as “genocide.” Forced labor, forced sterilization, and restrictions on freedom of expression and religion are among a range of repressive acts that the government of China has inflicted on an estimated one million of ethnic Muslims, human rights monitors say.
SumOfUs has proven it can move the needle inside Apple. In 2020, Apple instituted a human rights policy following a vote on a SumOfUs proposal that captured support from more than 40 percent of investors – a larger than anticipated tally and a sign that shareholders won’t automatically heed the company’s objections.
For more information about the Tech Transparency Project research revealing links to forced labor in Apple’s supply chain please contact: Michael Clauw, Campaign for Accountability on +1 202 780 5750.