Since Free Tibet and its partners launched a global week of action on Monday, there has been an avalanche of campaigning by Tibetan communities and Tibet groups around the world, demanding that US company Thermo Fisher Scientific halts the supply of its DNA kits to Tibet.
As many as 1.2 million Tibetans have been forced to submit DNA samples to police, who are constructing a database that will give them unprecedented access to Tibetans’ personal data and will increase their power to monitor the occupied population.
One of the highlights of the week of action came yesterday as a digital ad van crisscrossed central London, broadcasting our campaign message to everyone from science students to striking workers, the general public, parliament and the Chinese embassy.
The van was funded by contributions from the Tibetan Community in Britain and the International Tibet Network as well as a successful crowdfunder by Free Tibet’s supporters. The money allowed us to send our campaign message around London on a day when the streets were packed with people.
The day started at the Chinese embassy, with the van driving up and down Portland Place, watched by passers-by and more subtly by the guard at the embassy door.
It then made its way to University College London, where it strategically parked up at the midway point between the UCL Department of Security and Crime Science, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, allowing us to distribute leaflets to and engage with students and members of science departments. Among several useful conversations, one geneticist told us that they were very familiar with Thermo Fisher’s products and used them regularly, but was shocked to hear that they were being purchased by police in occupied Tibet.
The march by half a million striking workers and students in central London also gave Free Tibet the chance to express solidarity them while we told them about our campaign.
By early afternoon the van had reached Parliament Square, where it would have caught the eye of any MPs around the House of Commons before it crossed Westminster Bridge and made its way to its final stop near South Bank University.
The photos and videos of the van are sure to have attracted Thermo Fisher’s attention, along with the over 2,500 emails to the company’s CEO, Marc Casper, that have been sent since Monday. On Tuesday, Free Tibet visited a local Thermo Fisher office and after a brief interaction with staff, were able to drop off some leaflets about the Hand off Tibetans’ DNA campaign.