Barcelona footballer and French national team member Antoine Griezmann has announced he is cutting ties with Chinese technology giant Huawei over the continuing persecution of Uighurs in Xinjiang province.
Griezmann cited reports of Huawei’s involvement in the surveillance of Uighur Muslims as the reason for ending his contract as a brand ambassador with them on Thursday. “Following strong suspicions that Huawei has contributed to the development of a ‘Uighurs alert’ through the use of facial recognition software, I am immediately ending my partnership with the company,” Griezmann said in an Instagram post. “I am taking this opportunity to invite Huawei to not just be happy with denying these accusations but to implement action as quickly as possible to condemn this mass persecution and use its influence to contribute to respecting rights of men and women throughout society,” he added.
The United Nations estimates that more than one million Turkic Muslims – most of them ethnic Uighurs have been detained in camps in the far western province of Xinjiang. Griezmann’s statement comes after the United States-based surveillance research firm, IPVM, said in a report on Tuesday that Huawei had been involved in testing facial recognition software in China that could send alerts to police when it recognized the faces of Uighur people. Griezmann, a 29-year-old forward who was one of the leading members of the France team that won the 2018 World Cup in Russia, has been a Huawei brand ambassador since 2017.
Activists say the detention camps aim to erase the ethnic and religious identities of Turkic Muslims and ensure their loyalty to the Chinese government. Beijing denies the accusations, describing camps as vocational training centres to help stamp out “religious extremism” in the troubled province. People who were in the camps described being subjected to forced political indoctrination, torture and denial of food and medicine, and say they have been prohibited from practising their religion or speaking their language.