Document 3 of 8.
Copyright 1998 Newspaper Publishing PLC
The Independent (London)
July 4, 1998, Saturday
SECTION: NEWS; Page 13
LENGTH: 538 words
HEADLINE: Dissident sues Adidas over forced labour claim
BYLINE: Marcus Tanner
AN EXILED Chinese dissident living in the United States said he was filing a
class action suit against the US subsidiary of Adidas-Salomon AG, accusing the
company of using forced prison labour to make footballs in
Adidas said earlier this week that it had
already stopped orders for the balls which were made in
China while it investigated the allegations.
They were first raised last month by Bao Ge, who said he personally had had to
manufacture footballs for the World Cup while being held in prison in
"We have stopped placing orders in China, but not permanently. We admit
something happened and we want to investigate it ourselves," Peter Csanadi, global public relations director for Adidas, said in Paris.
Adidas, exclusive supplier of France98 balls for the World Cup finals,
last month assured the world football governing body, Fifa, that it was not
producing such balls in China.
The row is, nevertheless deeply embarrassing for Adidas, and contains echoes
of earlier complaints about the conditions of workers making Nike training
shoes, and which were widely seen as a contributory
factor to Nike's loss of prestige, and in the end, profits.
The Chinese government also joined the argument, denying prison labour had
been used to manufacture footballs for the Adidas sports label.
But Mr Bao, a founding member of the Voice of Human Rights in China and who
years in a forced-labour camp, and another former political prisoner, Yang
Qinheng, are proceeding with a civil lawsuit seeking damages from Adidas for
the pain and suffering they endured during the 15-hour days they were forced to
work, seven days a week.
used forced labour at the expense of the health and freedom of these Chinese
citizens," said Joel Segal, an attorney with the
Free China Movement, which announced the lawsuit.
Mr Segal said the group was also launching a boycott of all companies like
"use slave labour to make their products and
sell them here. This is just the beginning." Segal said.
"We'll continue to sue. We're also working with religious and human rights
He said the
Free China Movement, a coalition of over 30 Chinese dissident groups inside and outside China, was
also working with US lawmakers to halt China's use of forced
labour to manufacture products for Western consumption.
"The American people have no business buying any goods from these unconscionable
Mr Segal said.
"Where's the integrity of these businesses, trying to make a quick dollar from
people in involuntary servitude?"
Other former political prisoners, participating in the
"John Doe" plaintiffs, are Yao Zhenxian, Han Lifa and Liang Shaoke.
The US State Department estimated in a January report that between 6 and 8
million Chinese were working in forced labour camps.
Mr Segal said the group's next target was the Chinese
government's use of forced labour to make coloured light bulbs for Christmas
Free China Movement also urged the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to cease
granting loans to China until the forced labour camps ceased operating there.
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