The screening of the documentary ‘Complicit’ at the International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights in Geneva, on March 17, was a big success with a huge and committed audience. The screening was followed by a panel discussion with high level experts in the field of labor rights and occupational health and safety.

‘Complicit’ tells the story of a Chinese factory migrant worker-turned-activist. While struggling to survive his own work-induced leukemia, Yi Yeting teaches himself labor law in order to prepare a legal challenge against his former employers. In China, thousands of workers in electronics factories are exposed to the chemical benzene. Exposure to benzene generates cancers such as leukemia, reproductive disorders and other serious diseases.

According to Jason Chan, managing director at the NGO Labor Action China, “chemical poisoning is the second most common factor in work-related illness in China.”

Alternatives to benzene exist and would only cost less than an additional euro per phone, but are however not being used.

Jason Chan was one of the three panelists who discussed the issue of chemical poisoning in Chinese electronics factories. The two other experts were Bonnie Nixon, a consultant expert on Global Supply Chain Sustainability, and Chantal Peyer, project manager ‘Business and Human Rights’ at the NGO Bread for All. Watch the panel discussion.

‘Complicit’ has received a lot of attention. It was also screened twice at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in London. The documentary gives a voice to Chinese workers who are exposed to toxic chemicals. It makes a strong statement: change is necessary, and we are all responsible at all levels of society.

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