Press Releases


Irritating statements by Herbert Diess

Human rights organization contradicts head of VW

On Thursday, the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) criticized statements by Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess on the situation in China: “In Mr. Diess’ optimistic opinion, China will continue to see economic growth in 20 to 40 years, and VW will continue to be active in the Xinjiang region. However, if this point of view prevails, there will be no Uyghurs left there in 20 to 40 years,” said Hanno Schedler, STP expert on genocide prevention and Responsibility to Protect. “Attempts to gloss over the genocide crimes against the Uyghurs, especially by an influential man like Mr. Diess, will certainly please the Chinese government – and make business easier for the Wolfsburg-based company.”

The STP called on Diess to meet up with Uyghurs living in Germany. “Perhaps it could change his point of view – which is influenced by the Chinese state media – if relatives of those persecuted and disappeared in Xinjiang were to tell him about the year-slong suffering and the uncertainty,” Schedler said. “Against the background of the history of VW Group, he should not shy away from such a meeting.” Yet instead, he continues wo whitewash the Chinese crimes and reaffirms claims that people could travel to the region and see for themselves what the situation is like. “In fact, not even the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights was able to do that. Even the CEO of VW himself would not be allowed to visit the company’s own plant in Urumqi without police supervision,” Schedler criticized. “Not even audit companies are able to operate independently in Xinjiang any more. It is time for an import ban on goods from regions where genocide crimes are being committed. Volkswagen should close its plant in Urumqi immediately.”

China recently ratified two ILO conventions against forced labor (from 1930 and 1957), but is actually expanding the use of forced labor.