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Congress Asks Olympics Committee to Explain Deals with Chinese Slave Companies

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American lawmakers sent a letter to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Wednesday demanding an explanation for the IOC’s business deals with two Chinese apparel companies that source their cotton out of Xinjiang, a far-west occupied region where evidence suggests widespread use of slave labor.

Xinjiang is home to the Muslim-majority Uyghur ethnic group, who refer to the region as East Turkistan. China is currently engaging in genocide against the Uyghur people – systematically locking up millions in concentration camps, forcibly sterilizing entire communities to ensure the group does not grow, and bulldozing historical sites, mosques, and cemeteries to divorce Uyghurs from their religion, culture, and identity. Both the administrations of Presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden recognize the Chinese Communist Party policy of eliminating Uyghur identity as genocide.

In addition to the crime of genocide, extensive evidence points to China enslaving Uyghurs rounded up for concentration camps. In 2020, the Coalition to End Forced Labour in the Uyghur Region, a group of over 200 human rights groups, launched a campaign against the use of cotton from Xinjiang on the grounds that extensive research there showed that many companies engaging in cotton production were using Uyghur slaves to get the work done. The groups accused big-name Western fashion brands of benefitting from the slave trade, as about 84 percent of Chinese cotton – 20 percent of cotton produced worldwide  – comes from Xinjiang.

“Almost every major apparel brand and retailer selling cotton products is potentially implicated,” the Coalition declared at the time. “Right now, there is near certainty that any brand sourcing apparel, textiles, yarn or cotton from the Uyghur Region is profiting from human rights violations, including forced labour, both in the Uyghur Region and more broadly throughout China.”

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That same year, China human rights researcher Adrian Zenz published a study revealing that the Chinese government was using mobile phone apps to sell slaves to textile companies under the guise of “poverty alleviation.”

“The evidence shows that in 2018, three Uyghur regions alone mobilized at least 570,000 persons into cotton-picking operations through the government’s coercive labor training and transfer scheme,” the study found. “Xinjiang’s total labor transfer of ethnic minorities into cotton picking likely exceeds that figure by several hundred thousand.”

The United States banned cotton imports from Xinjiang last year. Last month, Congress passed a law banning all imports from Xinjiang unless the importer could provide sufficient evidence that the products were not made by slaves.

Two companies contracted to provide uniforms to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics have overt ties to the Xinjiang cotton industry: the Chinese sportswear giant Anta Sports and the textile company Hengyuanxiang Group (HYX Group). The heads of the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) wrote to IOC President Thomas Bach on Wednesday demanding answers to the details of the IOC’s relationship with the companies in question.

“Because Anta and HYX Group both continue to use cotton produced in the XUAR [Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region], there is a worrisome possibility that IOC personnel or others attending the 2022 Olympic Games will be wearing clothing contaminated by forced labor,” the letter read in part. The text, signed by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Rep. James McGovern (D-MA), requested proof that the Olympics clothing in question was not manufactured with slave products.

“What assurances, if any, did the IOC receive that the certificate provided by HYX Group was reliable?” the letter asked, requesting that the IOC make public proof that HYX allegedly gave Olympics organizers that slaves did not manufacture their apparel.

The letter also requested the IOC “explain publicly the assurances Anta Sports gave the IOC that the products Anta Sports supplied to the IOC were not produced in whole or in part by forced labor.”

“Cotton produced in the XUAR is synonymous with forced labor and the systematic repression that takes place there,” the letter read. “Forced labor plays an integral role in the genocide taking place against Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups in the region.”

The IOC signed a deal with Anta, one of China’s largest sports brands and a Fila affiliate, in 2017, shortly before the first reports of dictator Xi Jinping implementing genocidal policies in Xinjiang began. Anta became the official sportswear partner of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

The IOC signed its deal with HYX in 2019, commissioning the group to manufacture Olympics uniforms.

Supporters and members of the East Turkistan National Awakening Movement rally outside the White House to urge the United States to end trade deals with China and take action to stop the oppression of the Uyghur and other Turkic peoples August 14, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Supporters and members of the East Turkistan National Awakening Movement rally outside the White House. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“We are pleased to be working with HYX and look forward to wearing our formal uniforms with pride in Tokyo next year and in Beijing in 2022,” Bach said at the time. “I would like to thank in particular IOC Vice-President Zaiqing Yu for his work in bringing this agreement to life.”

The CECC noted that HYX maintains facilities to process cotton in China. Anta, in turn, has vocally defended the use of Xinjiang slave cotton, backing out of the Better Cotton Initiative last year in protest of the organization’s opposition to Uyghur slavery.

“We have been purchasing and using cotton produced from China, including the Xinjiang region, and we will continue to purchase and use cotton from China,” Anta said in a statement last year.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry defended the two companies on Thursday in response to the CECC letter.

“I want to point out that this so-called the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) has been biased against China,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said. “It keeps making all sorts of unfounded remarks related to China and has no political credibility at all.”

“The so-called ‘forced labor’ in Xinjiang, a lie of the century, is long bankrupt. Except for a handful of anti-China forces harboring ulterior motives, all people respecting facts and upholding conscience will not accept such despicable hypes,” Wang concluded.

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.

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Report: Detroit Man Accused of Setting Fire to Girlfriend Pregnant with Twins Bonds Out for $5,000

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A 41-year-old Detroit man accused of setting fire to his girlfriend, who is pregnant with twins, has bonded out of a Wayne County jail for just $5,000 after posting ten percent of his $50,000 bond, according to a report.

“Police said Devonne Marsh got into an argument with his girlfriend at their Detroit home off Packard and Outer Drive last Friday, Jan. 14, and he doused her with lighter fluid before setting her on fire,” WJBK reports.

According to the latest reporting from the outlet:

Devonne Marsh was released from the Wayne County Jail Friday morning. According to documents with the jail, he was released from custody just before 11:20 a.m. on Friday. He’s now out on bond with multiple conditions including no weapons, no drug use, and is ordered not to go to their shared apartment.

However, FOX 2 has learned that Marsh has a hold in Macomb County for other charges so while he’s posted bail in Wayne County, he is not currently free.

A man charged with setting his girlfriend – who was 6 months pregnant with twins – on fire, there was shock that his bond was set as low as $50,000 with 10%. Now, for just $5,000, he’s made bail. https://t.co/8PHFtDRtEY

— FOX 2 Detroit (@FOX2News) January 21, 2022

At about 10:40 on January 14, Detroit Police received a tip “that a woman was being held against her will and tortured,” according to WDIZ. At the scene, officers said they found the 26-year-old pregnant woman, with severe burns to her legs and stomach, lying on a bed in the basement of the home. Officers said she could hardly move.

The 26-year-old is in critical condition with burns to 60 percent of her body, and “It’s not yet known if her babies will survive,” WJBK reports. She is six and a half months pregnant.

“How do you do this to another human being? I can’t – it’s unimaginable,” Commander Michael McGinnis of the Detroit Police Department told WJBK. 

“Just incredibly traumatic injuries, I did see pictures and I mean the pain that she must be suffering – I can’t imagine,” he said. 

 Marsh, 41, was arrested and is charged with “kidnapping/abduction, aggravated/felonious assault and violation of the controlled substance act,” according to WDIZ.

He is a parole absconder with a lengthy rap sheet according to WJBK, including previous charges for guns, assault, and drugs.

“Marsh pleaded guilty in Macomb County Circuit Court to four counts of delivering more than 50 grams of cocaine in 2019 and was sentenced to two years probation,” Macomb Daily reports.

The victim had been too scared to report the abuse she was enduring, and Heaven of Oakland County CEO Aimee Nimeh told WJBK that victims often fear retaliation from their abusers when speaking up.

“Fear is part of the relationship and so absolutely there is fear of retaliation,” Nimeh explained.

She added that victims are often frightened by low bonds.

“The court system can be very overwhelming; the process can be complicated,” she said. “It’s not just that court is a little scary, it’s also that what happens next with that assailant that might be coming out, that might be walking free. How do you stay safe in that situation?”

McGinnis previously said he had hoped Marsh, who ended up making bond, remained in custody.

“We just hope that he remains in custody through the trial process so that the victim can heal without the fear of any kind of retribution from him,” McGinnis said.

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Wilson: GOP Wants 2024 to Be Last Election — Like the Ba’ath Party in Iraq

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Lincoln Project founder Rick Wilson said Friday on MSNBC’s “The ReidOut” that the Republican Party wanted the 2024 presidential election to be the last election in America.

Wilson said, “They’re trying to throw so much friction into voting and all the sand into the machine, especially in communities they don’t feel will be reliable voters for them. So they are not going to bitch and moan about early voting in a red county. ”

He continued, “This is exactly the kind of mechanism that proto authoritarian states and authoritarian states set up. They want to say who can vote, when they can vote, how they can vote, when the votes are counted. They want to have a veto of the vote count at the end. They want to also say they can bring criminal sanctions and try to intimidate people who are trying to go out and register voters. They want to bring criminal sanctions with these organizations. You know who enforces the law? State attorneys enforce the law. They don’t need an election police force. This is a tool of intimidation. And it is frankly a sign again. They don’t want elections. They would like 2024 to be the last election. They want to be like the Ba’ath Party in Iraq. They have a thing called elections, and the dear leader gets 117% of the vote.”

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN

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Rick Wilson: GOP Building a ‘Dystopian Bizarre Authoritarian Police State’

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Lincoln Project founder Rick Wilson said Friday on MSNBC’s “The ReidOut” that the Republican Party was building a “dystopian, bizarre authoritarian police state.”

When asked about a proposal by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) to create a police force to investigate election fraud, Wilson said, “Look, if Ron DeSantis forms his own election police force, he needs to start in the Villages, a Republican hotbed, where the only cases of voter fraud in the 2020 election in Florida came from. They were all Republicans. They were all Trump supporters. But I’m going to promise you if he does get his way with the legislature, and he probably will because they are basically like a trained dog for him right now, what will happen is they won’t be in The Villages or anywhere there is a Republican question. They will be in communities of color. They will be in Miami-Dade county. They will be in Palm Beach. They will be in Duval, will be in Hillsborough. They will not be out there looking for actual election fraud. They will be looking for ways to justify giving the dear leader, whether it’s dear leader Ron or Don, the boost they need and using this as a method to intimidate primarily voters of color. This is exactly and explicitly what it is for.”

He added, “I think it’s a sign that the Republicans are going to build this system no matter what we say or do about it in these states where they have control. It will be the thing they say ‘Oh how dare you say we’re building a dystopian bizarre authoritarian police state,’ while they are busy building a dystopian bizarre authoritarian police state.”

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN

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