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Minister: BBC report on Syrian child labor in Turkey is ill-intentioned

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The Turkish minister of labor said on Friday that a BBC news story on Syrian child labor in Turkey is ill-intentioned since it emphasized the nationality or the region of residence of the children instead of talking solely about the problem of child labor.

A recent BBC “Panorama” report had coverage on Syrian refugee children working in factories in Turkey to make clothes for British retailers.

In response to a question on the issue in Antalya, Minister of Labor Mehmet Müezzinoğlu argued that BBC’s coverage was unethical and went on to say: “I could understand if they report on child labor only, but stories talking about Syrian children, kids from the Southeast, are definitely ill-intentioned.”

A day before the minister slammed the BBC, the head of the İstanbul Ready-Made Garment Exporters’ Association (İHKİB), Hikmet Tanrıverdi, had described the report as a “conspiracy” against the Turkish textile sector.

“Those who are afraid of our power in the global ready-to-wear sector and those who want to intimidate companies that have their products manufactured in Turkey use this method. We will make it null and void,” Tanrıverdi said, speaking at a news conference on Wednesday.

In an Oct. 24 broadcast titled “Undercover: Refugees Who Make Our Clothes,” BBC “Panorama” reported that Syrian refugees and children were working illegally in poor conditions to make clothes for British retailers, one of the largest customers for Turkish textile producers and exporters.

“Panorama” investigated factories in Turkey and found children had been working on clothes for Marks and Spencer and the online retailer Asos.

Adult refugees were also found working illegally on Zara and Mango jeans.

All the brands say they carefully monitor their supply chains and do not tolerate the exploitation of refugees or children, according to BBC’s report.


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