An unsuspecting shopper found a note in a new pair of slippers begging for help from a ‘prisoner’, according to reports.
Arslan Gibadullin claims to have found the secret message in a set of black North Face indoor shoes.
Scrawled on what appears to be a yellow post-it note were the words: “HELP. I am in jail in China pleas help UYGHUR [sic].”
The note, which has not been verified, was found in St Petersburg, Russia, according to The Moscow Times.
Gibadulin said: “I got home and started putting the shoes on. As soon as I shoved my hand in one of them I discovered a strange note tightly sewn inside the shoe.”
Human rights campaigners have previously claimed that ‘virtually the entire’ fashion industry is complicit in alleged forced labour in Uighur, a region in northwest China.
A coalition of human rights groups previously accused several leading clothes brands of sourcing cotton and yarn produced in the area, The Guardian reported.
UN experts and human rights groups say that Chinese authorities have detained at least one million Uighur and other Turkic Muslims in detention camps.
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VF, the parent company of The North Face, the brand of slippers where the note was stashed, has denied sing forced labour in any of its products.
A spokesman told The Moscow Times that an investigation had been launched into the note.
They said: “VF Corporation and its family brands do not use forced labour in the manufacturing of any of our products and prison labour was not used in the manufacturing of any of our products.
“The shoes in the photographs were never in China. The shoes the consumer purchased were manufactured in Vietnam and shipped directly from the factory to our facility in Belgium and then to a distribution centre in Russia … VF does not source any products from the Xinjiang region.“
The note, originally posted on Instagram, has not yet been verified, according to reports.
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