Washington — Representative Chris Smtih (R-NJ) and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), respectively chairman and co-chairman of the bipartisan and bicameral Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), call on the US government to impose "Global Magnitsky sanctions on PRC officials responsible for the forced separation of Tibetan children from their families, a program that results in serious human rights violations and cultural and linguistic erasure."
Representative Chris Smtih (R-NJ) and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), the Chair and Cochair, respectively, of the bipartisan and bicameral Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), issued a letter on October 23, 2023, and urging “the Secretaries of Commerce, State and Treasury to impose export controls on technology used by People’s Republic of China (PRC)’s Public Security Bureaus and other entities in Tibet to collect biometric data which is used by PRC police for political identification and racial profiling.”
The letter also asks USA government to impose “Global Magnitsky sanctions on PRC officials responsible for the forced separation of Tibetan children from their families, a program that results in serious human rights violations and cultural and linguistic erasure.”
The letter addressed to Secretaries of State Raimondo, Yellen and Blinken states: "We write to you concerning mass DNA collection by police in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and other egregious human rights abuses facing the people of Tibet. We ask that you work together to take additional actions to address these abuses and stop commercial activities by companies participating in the deployment and management of biometric ID surveillance — in particular, technology used in Tibet and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) for political identification and racial profiling.”
“Thermo Fisher Scientific sold DNA kits and replacement parts for its DNA sequencers to the police in the TAR, a point that is not disputed by the company, though they continue to say that Thermo Fisher’s products are used for “routine forensic investigations” and “police work.” Through congressional hearings and our own investigations, it is clear that mass collection of DNA and other biometric data has been occurring in Tibet for at least the past six years. The Toronto-based technology and human rights monitoring group Citizen Lab found that between 2016 and 2022 police in the TAR collected between roughly 900,000 and 1.2 million DNA samples, which are a quarter to a third of the population of the TAR. According to Human Rights Watch, blood samples were taken from children at kindergartens and from other residents without obtaining consent, and evidence of criminal conduct were not required for collection,” the letter added.
The letter of CECC explained, “The size and scope of DNA collection implies that TAR (Tibetan Autonomy Region) officials already purchased Thermo Fisher’s DNA sequencers. Replacement parts and kits supplemented a project already well underway. It is impossible for Thermo Fisher to claim with confidence that its products were being used simply for “police casework.” And given there are so few safeguards for how DNA and other sensitive biometric data is gathered and used in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), it is our concern that biometric collection and analysis equipment could enable gross violations of human rights—from coercive mass surveillance to the harvesting of organs.”
Chairman and co-chairman of the bipartisan and bicameral Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) said, “Since each of you plays a role on the End-User Review Committee, we ask that you add TAR Public Security Bureaus and any other entities affiliated with the mass DNA collection project on the Bureau of Industry and Security’s Entity List. This will ensure that U.S. companies are not contributing to, and are not directly or indirectly complicit in, the collecting and building of biometric ID surveillance capabilities in the TAR or other Tibetan areas.”