Thermo Fisher, a Massachusetts (USA) company has
said that it would no longer sell its equipment in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region-
the region where China had been conducting “Physicals for All” project. The
project envisages collection of DNA samples, iris scans, and blood types of all
residents in the region between the ages of 12 to 65. According to human right
groups and Uighur Activists, China has been preparing a DNA database for surveillance
against Uighurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in the region.
Xinjiang is an administrative region in north-western
China. The region borders eight countries – Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan,
Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. The population in
Xinjiang is predominantly Uighurs. Uighurs are ethnically Turkic Muslims.
In response to large-scale ethnic rioting and attacks
in Xinjiang since 2009, China has enhanced security in the region to combat terrorism,
extremism and separatism.
China has been accused of detaining Uighur
Muslims and other Muslim groups in the western Xinjiang region. However, China
has denied there are internment camps but advocated that people in Xinjiang are
receiving “vocational training” in “re-education camps”.