According to a new report by Human Rights Watch (HRW), Chinese police are cracking down on Muslims to ensure there is no uprising in the future that puts the current regime at risk.
Chinese authorities are now gathering blood types, DNA samples, fingerprints and iris scans from millions of people in its Muslim-majority Xinjiang province to build a massive citizen database.
HRW claims Chinese police are gathering the data in various ways.
In some cases, Muslim citizens between 12 and 65 years old are offered free medical check-ups, and their data is being collected at that time. But Muslims who have been tagged by authorities as a “potential threat to the regime and their families,” are being forced to hand over samples of their DNA, regardless of age.
HRW reports that 18.8 million Muslims have participated in the medical check-ups, called “Physicals for all” by the government. The group is concerned about the data collection since iris scans, DNA and blood type can all be used for “surveillance of persons because of ethnicity, religion, opinion or other protected exercise of rights like free speech,” further adding controls to a region some analysts have dubbed an “open-air prison.”
According to Newsweek, Xinjiang, a territory in northwest China, is a colossal area of deserts and mountains and is known for being home to many ethnic minority groups, including over 11 million Muslim-Turkic Uyghur people. Because of this, the region has long been subject to tight control and intense levels of surveillance not experienced elsewhere in China.
In April, police banned its citizens from wearing long beards or veils in public, a move that activist groups saw as a means of targeting the Muslim population, specifically. Authorities also banned homeschooling and use of the Uyghur language in schools and introduced new restrictions on downloading what it considered to be extremist materials.
“HRW is outraged over the measures being taken by the Chinese government, but the upside is they won’t deal with the Islamic-fueled attacks witnessed by countries like Europe and the US who fail to protect their citizens due to political correctness!” — DML