Tibetan activists on Friday, in Dharamshala, protested against China’s massive DNA collection policy, demanding an end to human rights violations against Tibetans in the region. The Tibet Rights Collective reported that during the protests, protesting Tibetan NGOs expressed concern that how DNA samples are being taken from children which have led to Tibetans, as young as five were being killed by China using thermo fisher kits to bolster its mass surveillance program.
Tibetan Youth Congress, Tibetan Women’s Union, Tibetan Youth Congress and Students for a Free Tibet staged a play in Dharamsala depicting the malpractices of DNA collection by the Chinese government in Tibet, which it claims as its territory. They also demonstrated using placards that read, “Thermo Fisher, remove Tibetan DNA. Tibetan DNA is not for profit.”
Speaking to ANI, the President of the National Democratic Party of Tibet (NDPT) said, “Today we, four major Tibetan NGOs of Tibet are here. We have around 120 NGOs around the world, involved in different activities. Today is the Global Week of Action on DNA Collection inside Tibet.”
Why is china collecting the DNA of Tibetan people?
On a vast scale, China is gathering DNA from the population belonging to Tibet. In this Chinese conspiracy, the involvement of an American corporation is getting revealed. There are protests over this taking place on American streets as well.
On Monday, Tibetan students protested against an American corporation in two counties in California. According to the students, the authorities in Tibet are acquiring DNA kits from this US corporation in order to conduct widespread surveillance and violate people’s rights.
Students protested Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. in Contra Costa and Alameda counties under the banner “Hands off Tibetan DNA.” The demonstrators claimed that the American company’s supplies were being used by the Chinese government to oppress the Tibetan people.
According to reports, this is not the first time that the company has come to them for repressive acts by the Chinese government. The Chinese police utilised the same company’s DNA kit in Xinjiang earlier. The media reports state that China used Thermo Fisher Company’s kit to collect the DNA of Uygar Muslims in Xinjiang, for which the company was widely criticized.
Human Rights Watch published a study titled “China: Mass DNA Collection in Tibet” on September 5, 2022. Even young children under the age of five were reportedly involved in the DNA gathering drive in Tibet, according to the article. Based on the study, doing so fundamentally transgresses the standards of free and informed consent.
Another report released in the same month by The Citizen Lab of the University of Toronto suggested that between 9,19,282 and 1,206,962 DNA samples may have been gathered in Tibet by Chinese officials since 2016.
Tibet is referred to as an independent area by the Chinese government. According to the article, Chinese authorities visited Tibetans in their homes, monasteries, workplaces, neighbourhoods, and even schools to collect “pin-prick blood samples.”
Tibetans and members of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) questioned Thermo Fisher Scientific in December of last year about the logistics of China’s massive DNA collecting programme in Tibet. The use of Thermo Fisher Scientific’s tools for mass DNA collection in Tibet “may permit future severe abuses” of the human rights of ethnic minorities in China, the Commission had also voiced worry in a letter to Marc Casper, chairman and CEO of the business.
Thermo Fisher Scientific was questioned by the students about whether or not their goods entail the bulk collecting DNA, during the demonstration on Monday. “Since October, Tibet groups have contacted the company repeatedly, requesting a meeting with Thermo Fisher CEO Marc Casper and detailed responses to questions about the company’s knowledge of equipment sales to police in occupied Tibet and what steps the company has taken to prevent misuse of its products,” the organisations claimed. To solve crimes (such as bank robberies or kidnappings), the Chinese government has attempted to use the DNA collecting campaign as justification, reported to ANI.
With the assistance of significant Western industrial partners, the Chinese government is creating the largest police-run DNA database in the world. One such associate is the Massachusetts-based business Thermo Fisher Scientific. Leading provider of DNA profiling technology in Tibet is Thermo Fisher.
Thermo Fisher Scientific was accused of having supply chains connected to China’s extensive DNA collection programme and its goods being used in human rights abuses in Tibet by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China and Tibetans (CECC) commissioners in December 2022.