China using U.S. technology to track DNA of Uyghur “dissidents”
In China’s latest abuse against the Muslim Uyghur minority, it has become apparent that China has been collecting DNA samples of suspected Uyghur “dissidents” and “extremists” without consent.
China has claimed that these DNA samples are taken as part of their tactics to chase down and track those Uyghurs involved in extremists activities, however much skepticism surrounds this latest explanation as to why the Muslim Uyghur population are so heavily targeted by authorities.
Over a million Uyghurs are in apparent detention camps, or so-called “re-education” camps, where they are subject to torture, forced conversions, and indefinite jail-time. Human rights groups continue to call out China on their abusive tactics towards the Uyghurs, who face anything from kidnap, torture, or even death for being a suspected Islamist “extremist”. In many cases, those who are simply a practicing Muslim are labeled an “extremist” and a potential threat to the country.
In their most recent tactic of collecting DNA samples, Chinese scientists affiliated with the state police have confirmed that they have been using equipment made by Thermo Fisher, a Massachusetts company in the United States. Thermo Fisher has since stated that they would no longer sell this equipment in Xinjiang, where the authorities have been most active in collecting forced DNA samples from Uyghurs, however it is still unclear when exactly they would stop selling and if they would continue to sell the equipment in other parts of China.
China has also given Uyghur DNA samples to Allele Frequency Database, a global security database of DNA samples, which could potentially be violating scientific norms and regulations of consent.
The bulk of this DNA collection happened from 2016 to 2017, in which Uyghurs in Xinjiang province were forced to participate in a “Physicals for All” program, where they were required without consent to have their DNA samples taken by authorities. China claims this was done specifically in Xinjiang, where most of the Uyghur population is based, for reasons of “internal security”.
While the onslaught of abuse against the Uyghur minority in China has gained relatively little attention in both the Western world as well as from neighboring Muslim-lead nation-states, the human rights abuses continue without scrutiny, leaving the Uyghurs without proper international support and protection.