Turkish authorities, textile industry lash out at BBC report on Syrian refugee labor

Turkish authorities and textile players have slammed a recent BBC Panorama report on Syrian refugees and children working in factories in Turkey to make clothes for British high street retailers.

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, which are one of the largest customers for Turkish textile producers and exporters.

The head of the Istanbul Ready-Made Garment Exporters' Association (İHKİB), Hikmet Tanrıverdi, complained that child workers who were employed by informal and fly-by-night manufacturers were "secretly videotaped" and that BBC Panorama had launched a "smear campaign" against the whole industry.  
"As İHKİB, we investigated the issue and saw that the fly-by-night manufacturers in the story did not produce for any of the global brands that were mentioned in the same report. The BBC reporter applied to a big brand, which had earlier worked with this fly-by-night manufacturer, and asked for new output as if it was being requested by the big brand. This is a fabricated scenario. We strongly condemn such unethical reporting with no solid proof that aims to create a bad image about our industry," Tanrıverdi said Oct. 26 in a joint press conference with the Turkish Clothing Manufacturers' Association (TGSD).

"We found it very interesting to see a reporter from a foreign media institution who manipulated her sources and conducted secret shooting while concealing her identity," he said, adding that sector organizations were not approached by the broadcast team for comment.

"Here, we frankly declare that any manufacturer which illegally employs child labor...

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