Are Chinese police collecting DNA for all Muslims in Xinjiang province?

China may be preparing to collect DNA profile of a large proportion – or even all – of the Muslim Uighur population in the western region of Xinjiang. According to a report by Associated Press, the government has been buying equipment which will allow it to process vast numbers of DNA profiles.

Xinjiang borders on several Muslim-majority countries, including Afghanistan, and there is simmering discontent amongst the Uighurs. Some have joined ISIS and Al-Qaeda. There have been a number of lethal knife attacks and bombings by separatists. The central government has responded by encouraging migration by Han Chinese and by greatly increased surveillance and repression. According to AP, these include “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.”

“Xinjiang is already an oppressive region with a high level of surveillance,” said Human Rights Watch researcher Maya Wang. “To collect even more information on a mass scale unrelated to criminal investigation opens the door for an even greater level of surveillance and control.”

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