China moves to expand DNA testing in Muslim region

2017-05-16 17:20
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Beijing - China appears to be laying the groundwork for the mass collection of DNA samples from residents of a restive, largely Muslim region that's been under a security crackdown, rights observers and independent experts said on Tuesday.

Police in western China's Xinjiang region confirmed that they are in the process of purchasing at least $8.7m in equipment to analyse DNA samples.

Observers from Human Rights Watch said they've seen evidence of almost $3m in additional purchases related to DNA testing. They warned such a collection programme could be used as a way for authorities to beef up political control.

The move comes after Chinese authorities in 2016 reportedly required Xinjiang residents to submit DNA samples, fingerprints and voice records to obtain passports or travel abroad.

Xinjiang borders several unstable Central Asian countries, including Afghanistan. It's experienced numerous bombings and vehicle and knife attacks blamed on ethnic separatists from the native Uighur Islamic minority.

In one of the most recent attacks, eight people, including three assailants, were killed in a February knife attack in southern Xinjiang's Pishan County, which borders Pakistan.

Chinese authorities seeking to counter religious extremism among the Uighurs have taken increasingly aggressive steps to quell the unrest. Those have included mandatory satellite tracking systems for vehicles in some areas, rewards for terror-related tips and prohibitions against women wearing veils and men growing beards.


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