(Photo: Erik Törner, IMs bildarkiv)

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Dharamshala — Tesco has announced that it will remove all Hikvision security cameras from its 2,831 retail stores in the United Kingdom. The decision follows a campaign by Free Tibet, Big Brother Watch, Hong Kong Watch and Stop Uyghur Genocide, which raised the issue of the involvement of Chinese companies using security cameras in human rights abuses against Tibetans, Hong Kongers and Uyghurs.

According to the sources, Chinese security giants Dahua and Hikvision have been found to be complicit in state repression in Hong Kong, Tibet and the Uighur region (Xinjiang) and have been blacklisted by the US for using their technology in internment camps.

The UK government has also acknowledged that the technology of these two companies poses a security risk. Last November, the Cabinet Office recommended that surveillance equipment manufactured by "companies subject to the National Intelligence Law of the People's Republic of China" be removed from government services.

Free Tibet, Big Brother Watch, Hong Kong Watch, and Stop Uyghur Genocide contacted Tesco CEO Justin Tarry on February 22, 2023, to raise concerns about the company's use of equipment from Chinese surveillance technology companies Dahua and Hikvision in its supermarkets. Justin Tarry responded on March 16, 2023, stating that as soon as he became aware of the allegations of human rights violations related to Dahua and Hikvision, Tesco began "the process of transitioning to new suppliers."

The letter to the Tesco CEO stated: "We are a diverse coalition of rights groups, writing to raise our concerns about Tesco’s use of Chinese state-owned surveillance companies that are involved in serious human rights abuses and associated with significant security issues. In particular, we urge you to remove Hikvision and Dahua cameras from your stores."

"These companies provide technology that facilitates the persecution and oppression of ethnic and religious groups in the Uyghur region (“Xinjiang”), Tibet and Hong Kong and have no place in the UK. These cameras also give rise to serious security concerns, given their links to the Chinese state and their history of security flaws," the letter added.

In the response letter from Tesco CEO Justin Tarry, who said: "We have a strong commitment to ethical sourcing and human rights, and we do not tolerate any forms of human rights abuse in our supply chain. When we became aware of the allegations linked to Hikvision and Dahua, we immediately took action to identify alternative suppliers."

Tesco announces that it will remove all Hikvision security cameras from its 2,831 retail stores in the United Kingdom. Tesco's decision follows commitments from local councils across the UK to remove Hikvision cameras, including Edinburgh and Kent councils, as well as several government departments.

Tenzin Kunga, Advocacy Officer at Free Tibet said: "Tesco have set a good example here: they have to listened our evidence about how Hikvision is complicit in human rights abuses against Tibetans, Hongkongers and Uyghurs and have committed to taking decisive action. That being said, there are still an estimated 1.2 million Hikvision cameras in the UK. Only a proper government ban will see them removed. Until then, equipment used in the interrogation and torture of my fellow Tibetans will continue to monitor us on Britain’s streets."