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Global coalition of lawmakers urge sanctions on firms complicit in mass DNA-profiling of Tibetans, Uyghurs

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(TibetanReview.net, Dec20’22) – A coalition of lawmakers from democratic countries from across the world have on Dec 16 called on their concerned governments to investigate and suspend commercial activities with companies that provide the People’s Republic of China (PRC) with technologies to enable it to carry out biometric surveillance in the Uyghur Region, Tibet and elsewhere in the PRC. They have especially mentioned the US-based ThermoFisher Scientific and the PRC’s state-funded gene firm BGI Group.

Citing reports by New York-based Human Rights Watch and other groups, the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC) has have expressed deep concern that since Jun 2016, the PRC authorities had conducted a mass DNA collection programme in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), reaching up to one third of its population – including many children. Investigations are stated to have revealed that at least one American company, Thermo Fisher, is known to be supplying DNA profiling kits to police in the TAR.

The biometric profiling is known to be carried out without free and informed consent of the surveilled populations.

With regard to TAR, IPAC has noted that Thermo Fisher is known to be supplying DNA profiling kits to its police. The US company is stated to hold deals worth $160,0000 USD to supply the police in the region, with PRC government procurement documents revealing purchase of $173,000 worth of Thermo Fisher’s equipment in 2021.

It was pointed out that in 2020, the US Department of Commerce added to its list of sanctioned PRC entities two entities from the PRC state-funded gene firm BGI Group for abetting surveillance and repression of ethnic and religious minority groups in the Uyghur Region.

The lawmakers have urged the concerned governments to investigate any potential connections between genomics firms operating in their respective countries and the mass DNA collection campaign led by the PRC authorities.

The group’s letter was addressed to the foreign ministers of Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Ireland, Lithuania, New Zealand, Republic of North Macedonia, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the EU’s (High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

The signatories included MP Fatmir Mediu from Albania; Senator Claire Chandler from Australia; Senator Janet Ric from Australia; MP’s Samuel Cogolati and Georges Dallemagne from Belgium; MP Arif Virani from Canada; MP’s Ondřej Benešík and Decroix from the Czech Republic; Senator André Gattolin from France; MEP’s Engin Eroglu and Anna Fotyga from the EU; MP’s Malcolm Byrne and  Mary Seery Kearney from Ireland; Senators Michael McDowell and David Norris from Ireland; MP’s Žygimantas Pavilionis and Dovilė Šakalienė from Lithuania; MP Simon O’Connor from New Zealand; MP Antonio Miloshoski from Republic of North Macedonia; MP Cătălin Teniță from Romania; MP Niels Paarup-Petersen from Sweden; MP’s Fabian Molina and Nicolas Walder from Switzerland; MP Oleksandr Merezhko from Ukraine; Lords David Alton and James Bethell from the UK; and MP’s Judith Cummins, Timothy Loughton, Siobhain McDonagh, and Marie Rimmer from the UK.

IPAC is an international, cross-party alliance of parliamentarians from democratic countries focused on relations with the PRC, specifically, the Chinese Communist Party. It was established on Jun 4, 2020, on the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and massacre.

The alliance comprises over 100 MPs from the world’s democratic legislatures, lawmakers from Ireland becoming the 20th country to join the alliance in Feb 2021. Each legislature represented takes turns to chair the alliance on a rotating basis. Its purpose is to create a coordinated response to China on global trade, security, and human rights.

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