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Petition to President Salovey on Yale's Connection to Mass Surveillance in Xinjiang

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February 2019

Dear President Salovey,

We are deeply concerned about reports that a Yale faculty member provided DNA samples to the Ministry of Public Security of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) that were then used to enhance mass monitoring and repression of Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities in Xinjiang (“China Uses DNA to Track Its People, With the Help of American Expertise”, New York Times, Feb 21, 2019). Equally concerning, PRC government researchers contributed thousands of DNA samples from Uyghur individuals—likely obtained through coercion—to a database managed by the same Yale faculty member.

Numerous reliable reports have shown that the PRC government has detained approximately one million Uyghurs in prison-like “re-education” camps and has prohibited a growing list of Uyghur religious and cultural practices.

Several members of the Yale community have friends or family currently in detention or under state surveillance in Xinjiang. We are disturbed that the PRC government used Yale-provided resources in its widespread campaign of forced assimilation.

We call upon you to:

1) Raise this issue with the Ministry of Public Security on your upcoming visit to the PRC and communicate the results of the meeting to the university community.

2) Ensure Yale University academic cooperation with institutions in the PRC is conducted on an ethical basis, starting with a review of this collaboration.

Yale has the longest history of engagement with China of any US university. Students and scholars from China are cherished members of the Yale community. We support building good faith cooperation between US and Chinese academic institutions. At the same time, it is absolutely necessary to ensure such collaborations do not enable human rights abuses.

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