Tibetans activists in Dharamshala on Friday staged protests against the mass DNA collection policy by China, demanding an end to human rights violations against Tibetans in the region.
During the protests, the Tibetan NGOs protesting expressed alarm about how DNA samples taken from Tibetan children as young as five years old are being used by China to strengthen its programme of mass surveillance using Thermo Fisher kits, Tibet Rights Collective reported.
The Tibetan Youth Congress, Tibetan Women’s Association, Tibetan Youth Congress and Students for a Free Tibet staged a play in Dharamshala depicting the malpractice of DNA collection by the Chinese government in Tibet, which it claims to be its own territory.
They also demonstrated using placards which read, “Thermo Fisher, Hands off Tibetan DNA. Tibetan DNA is not for profit.”
While speaking to ANI, the President of the National Democratic Party of Tibet (NDPT) said, “Today we, the four Tibetan major non-government organisations of Tibet are here. We have about 120 NGOs all around the world organising different actions, considering today is the global week of action regarding DNA collection inside Tibet.”
As part of the Global Week of Action, the NDPT leader stated that the policy of mass DNA collection introduced by the Chinese government is how the country is building a database of DNA to surveil the Tibetan people.
“There is a policy introduced by the Chinese government which is the policy of mass DNA collection. So irrespective of age, gender…even till now 1.2 million Tibetans have had their DNA collected without their consent including monks, nuns, women and children as young as 5 years of age,” the NDPT president said.
“With this DNA we fear that China is right now building a database of DNA so it surely gives China unfettered power to yet commit more human rights violations against Tibetans, this will also help China in the surveillance of Tibetan people,” he added.
Tibetan non-governmental organisations, such as Students for a Free Tibet, International Tibet Network, Tibetan Women’s Association, Tibetan Youth Congress, National Democratic Party of Tibet, Free Tibet, Chushi Gandruk, and Tibetan National Congress, among others, have called for Thermo Fisher to conduct a thorough investigation into their work under the law and fight for the human rights of Tibetans in Tibet during a global week of action from January 30 to February 5, according to Tibet Rights Collective.
“Today, our major issue is Thermo Fisher Scientific, a US products company. China has been using this product since 2012. They are using this product as a DNA production method. Till now, reports have shown that 1.2 million DNA samples have been collected without their consent, Since 1949, there have been no basic human rights in Tibet,” the Joint secretary of the Central Tibetan women’s Association (CTWA) told ANI.
Today these four organisations are here, to request and urge international bodies and non-governmental organisations to investigate more on Thermo Fisher Scientific and how its product has been used, she said.
Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc, based in the Massachusetts town of Waltham, is an American provider of scientific equipment, reagents, and consumables as well as software services.
A worldwide demonstration against the Chinese government’s abuse of Tibetans’ human rights in Tibet and at Chinese embassies across the world is being led by activists.
Additionally, they are starting petitions asking Thermo Fisher’s CEO and Communications Officer to stop providing DNA testing supplies to Chinese authorities in Tibet, Tibets Right Collective reported.
Tibet under Chinese occupation has been repressed since 1949 when the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was established.
However, the collection of genetic material is not new to China as its ministry of public security runs the world’s largest forensic DNA database, which probably contains more than 100 million profiles. This activity involves gathering samples from criminal suspects or victims of crime, similar to what western countries do.
For Tibetans, it was common knowledge that if you have family and links in Tibet, you must be apolitical even if you are personally far away from the direct clutches of Beijing’s authoritarian rule. The reason is that your family members were immediately questioned, threatened and even sentenced due to your actions that occurs far beyond the jurisdiction of Beijing, reported Tibet Press. (ANI)