US-based Biotechnology company Thermo Fisher Scientific said it had halted sales of its DNA collection kits to Chinese-occupied Tibet after criticism from rights groups and pressure from Congress, reported axios.com Jan 3, citing an emailed statement from the company. China is accused of building a DNA data base for subjecting the Tibetan people to ethnic profiling and other possible abuses.
“Based on a number of factors we made the decision in mid-2023 to cease sales of HID products in the region and no longer sell our human identification technology in the Tibet Autonomous Region,” it quoted a Thermo Fisher spokesperson as saying.
The spokesperson has said the company’s HID (human identification) technology had “important forensic applications, from tracking down criminals, to stopping human trafficking and freeing the unjustly accused” and maintained that its HID sales in Tibet were “consistent with routine forensic investigation in an area of this size”.
The report said that in 2022, reports based on Chinese government documents revealed Chinese police were engaging in mass DNA collection in Tibet; and they had purchased equipment from Thermo Fisher.
Since then, the company has faced pressure to cease sales of its products in Tibet.
And in late 2022, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China’s commissioners wrote a letter to Thermo Fisher president and CEO Marc Casper, expressing concern about the company’s sales in Tibet and asking Casper to undertake a “rigorous review” of how its products were being used in the region.
Also, Human Rights Watch as well as Tibetan groups have persistently called for the company to end the sales to Chinese-ruled Tibet.
“This is the power of our collective organizing,” the report quoted Ms Chemi Lhamo, campaign director at Students for a Free Tibet, as saying.
“Companies must do better in critically examining the reality of the brutal repression and human rights violations of Tibetans in occupied Tibet, rather than allowing their heads to be turned by the promise of profits from sales and access to cheap labour in China.”
Ms Tencho Gyatso, President of Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet, has, “This is a victory that shows collective activism for Tibet makes a real difference. Now we must go further, from pressuring businesses to end their complicity in China’s human rights abuses against Tibetans, to pushing the Chinese government to resolve its decades-long occupation of Tibet through peaceful dialogue with Tibetan leaders.”
The International Tibet Network, umbrella body for a network of Tibet support groups across the world, has said Jan 3 that Thermo-Fisher had sent a letter to shareholders last month, stating it would halt all direct and indirect sales of human identification products to Tibet.