Members of the Swiss Parliament include Nik Gugger, Maya Graf, Nicolas Walder, and Fabian Molina. Photo: TPI

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Geneva – "The Parliamentary Group for Tibet is concerned about the involvement of Thermo Fisher Inc. in the mass collection of DNA samples from the Tibetan people and demands clarification about the company's activities in Tibet," says an open letter of the Swiss Parliamentary Group for Tibet, which was sent to the CEO of Thermo Fisher Scientific in the USA, asking him to clarify Thermo Fisher's activities in Tibet.

The Swiss Parliamentary Group for Tibet, made up of 30 members of the Swiss National Council and Council of States, sent an open letter to Marc N. Casper, Chairman, President, and CEO of Thermo Fisher Scientific, on May 23, 2023, asking the company to describe in detail the measures it is taking to ensure the ethical use of materials supplied and data collected in Tibet.

The letter stated, "You claim that the amount of sample containers sold is "consistent with the rate of crimes" in the TAR. As you know, the police in the People's Republic of China (PRC) in general and the police in Tibet in particular consider any undesirable political activity to be a "political crime." Therefore, you cannot rule out the possibility that DNA data collected in this way will help identify Tibetans who are "political criminals" in the eyes of the police. We would like to point out to you that in its annual report, Freedom in the World 2023, the organisation Freedom House ranks Tibet as the least free country in the world for the third time after 2021 and 2022, on par with Syria and South Sudan. We therefore fear that your products directly contribute to the terrible political repression in this region."

"The DNA data is stored in the databases of the PRC police in Tibet. Their use or disclosure cannot therefore be controlled. The mass collection of data only "on the basis of suspicion and reservation" cannot be justified by "fighting crime". Such a practice seems to us to be in contradiction with the control of "ethical and responsible sales" that you claim to apply," the letter added.

The Swiss Parliamentary Group for Tibet asked the company to dispel any doubts about its support for the Chinese government's repressive practices in Tibet and to describe in detail the measures it takes to guarantee the ethical use of the material it supplies and the data it collects in Tibet.

The group has asked the company to terminate its relations with China if it does not respond satisfactorily to the questions posed or if it is unable to provide sufficient guarantees.

Leaders and MPs from around the world have expressed their concern at the "collection of DNA from Tibetans without their consent" and called for sanctions to be taken against companies involved in mass DNA collection in Tibet. Tibetan activists demand that Thermo Fisher stop selling DNA kits to China and have staged protests around the world to denounce China for stealing Tibetan DNA and violating the human rights of Tibetans inside Tibet.

The four members of the Swiss Parliament who signed the letter are Nik Gugger (Co-President), Maya Graf (Co-President), Nicolas Walder (Co-President), and Fabian Molina (Vice-President).