Reports of Mass DNA Collection in Tibet by Chinese Authorities
September 5, 2022
Cited article by Human Rights Watch
HRRC is highly concerned over reports that Chinese authorities are conducting widespread collections of DNA samples in the Tibetan Autonomous Region, including young children. Further, the there is no evidence that the Tibetan people received or provided any informed consent, and specific security concerns have been raised for bodily autonomy and general human rights.
Human Rights Watch reports that Chinese authorities have increased policing and are conducting widespread arbitrary collection of DNA from towns and villages in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR). The collection processes don't allow for informed consent or refusal of the DNA sampling. A report from April 2022 stated that collections were being taken from children at kindergartens, as well from other residents in the Lhasa municipality. Another report from December 2020 stated that samples were being collected from all boys age five and up in the Qinghai province.
Tibetans in these areas have been told that the DNA collection is for public security and catching fleeing persons. While China has utilized DNA collection since the early 2010's, those efforts focused on groups of people and social groups that the security agencies considered "focus personnel". However, the current DNA collections are focused on an entire region and population. DNA information is highly sensitive and can be misused easily. DNA samples can sometimes be collected legitimately due to specific security concerns, however, the widespread collection through coercion or without informed consent can constitute a human rights violation and violation of bodily autonomy.