Activists staged a play, showing the CEO of Thermo Fisher and Xi Jinping holding hands and a bag of money in the hand of the CEO. Chinese police using Thermo Fisher kits to collect DNA from Tibetan children. Photo: TPI

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Dharamshala – Tibetan activists from a global coalition of 120 organisations and allies have organised protests to highlight China's latest attack on Tibet: the stealing of Tibetan DNA. They are calling on Thermo Fisher to stop selling DNA kits to China that steal Tibetan DNA and violate the human rights of Tibetans.

As part of the Global Week of Action, Tibetan non-governmental organisations in Dharamshala, including the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC), Students for a Free Tibet (SFT), Tibetan Women's Association (TWA) and National Democratic Party of Tibet (NDPT), organised a demonstration in Mcleod Ganj on February 3, 2023, to protest against the Chinese government's stealing of Tibetan DNA and to demand Thermo Fisher to stop selling DNA kits to China. 

Activists staged a play, showing the CEO of Thermo Fisher and Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, holding hands and a bag of money in the hand of the CEO, who sells the DNA kits to China. The play also shows Chinese police using Thermo Fisher kits to collect DNA from Tibetan children.

Other activists held signs that read: "China: Hands off Tibetan DNA, Thermo fisher: Hands off Tibetan DNA, Tibetan DNA is not for profit.”

The four organisations issued a statement saying that, “A global coalition of 120 organizations and allies call for a "Global week of action" from 30th January - 5th February 2023 to highlight China's policy of Mass DNA Collection. There can be no justification for this policy; it's widely disproportionate in scale, discriminates against Tibetans, and hands the Chinese Communist Regime unfettered power to carry out yet more human rights abuses against Tibetans.”

“China's repressive rule in Tibet has taken a sinister turn: police are systematically taking DNA samples from Tibetans, including Children as young as 5 years of age,” said Tashi Dhondup, the President of NDPT.

Rinzin Choedon, national director of the SFT, said that the Chinese government was collecting the DNA of nearly 1.2 million Tibetans, which is a violation of privacy and human rights. “As many as 1.2 million Tibetans have had their DNA samples taken to build a sweeping genetic database. That will add to Beijing's growing surveillance capabilities, giving china unprecedented power to monitor Tibetans, violate their privacy, eradicate Tibetan's existence and persecute them,” she added.

“Aiding and abetting this mass robbery of Tibetan DNA is Thermo Fisher Scientific, a US-based corporate that supplies its DNA tool kits and other technical support to Chinese police forces in occupied Tibet. According to International Freedom House; Tibet under illegal occupation by the Chinese Communist Regime is reported as one of the least free countries in the world,” said Sonam Tsering, the general secretary of TYC.

“Occupied Tibet is already one of the most repressive and closely monitored places in the world. Thermo fisher claims to be an ethical company, so why is it aiding China as it attempts to subject an entire people to a lifetime of surveillance and fear? Thermo Fisher should stop making a profit from the persecution,” said Tenzing Dolma, the President of TWA.

“Despite repeated appeals and protests! Mr Marc Casper, Chief Executive Officer of Thermo Fisher chooses to turn a blind eye. So long as these sales continue, Thermo fisher scientific is choosing to assist in the monitoring and persecution of millions of Tibetans. Tibetan History, Tibetan people, and our allies: all the freedom-loving peoples around the world will remember Thermo fisher scientific for this,” their statement mentioned.

Similar protests have taken place in the US, Canada, the UK and other countries. "Tibetans continue to seek freedom and human rights through non-violence. However, the situation in Tibet is worsening and human rights violations by the Chinese government continue," said Sangyal Kyab, a Tibetan activist in Canada.