Reported by Human Rights Watch.
(New York) – Chinese authorities are significantly increasing policing, including arbitrary collection of DNA from residents in many towns and villages throughout the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), Human Rights Watch said today.
The available information indicates that people cannot decline providing their DNA and that police do not need credible evidence of any criminal conduct. A report from Lhasa municipality in April 2022 stated that blood samples for DNA collection were being systematically collected from children at kindergartens and from other local residents. A report from a Tibetan township in Qinghai province in December 2020 stated that DNA was being collected from all boys aged 5 and above.
“The Chinese government is already subjecting Tibetans to pervasive repression,” said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch. “Now the authorities are literally taking blood without consent to strengthen their surveillance capabilities.”
These mass DNA collection drives appear to be taking place in all seven prefectures or municipalities in the TAR, which covers the western part of the Tibetan plateau. The collection drives are part of ongoing efforts by Chinese authorities to establish police presence at the grassroots level throughout the region. There is no publicly available evidence suggesting people can decline to participate or that police have credible evidence of criminal conduct that might warrant such collection. The reports Human Rights Watch studied indicate that DNA was to be collected from all residents of these areas, including temporary residents. None of the reports indicate any conditions under which a resident could refuse to provide a sample.
Human Rights Watch has identified reports of drives in 14 distinct localities (1 prefecture, 2 counties, 2 towns, 2 townships, and 7 villages) across the seven prefecture-level areas of the region, indicating that drives are taking place, or are due to take place, throughout the region. Government procurement documents show that in July 2019 the TAR police called for bids from contractors to construct a regional-level DNA database, a further indication that officials were preparing for a region-wide collection drive. In November 2019, police in Nyingtri, a prefecture-level unit of the TAR, also announced the construction of a DNA database for the area.
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