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Supermarket giant Tesco announces plans to remove Chinese surveillance tech from their stores

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Free Tibet Organisation protesting against Hikvision in Edinburgh City (Photo/Free Tibet)

By Tenzin Nyidon 

DHARAMSHALA, March 21: Supermarket giant Tesco will be removing Hikvision and Dahua CCTV cameras from their stores following allegations of human rights violations connected to the company’s surveillance tech.

The London-based rights group Free Tibet, along with Big Brother Watch, Hong Kong Watch and Stop Uyghur Genocide, sent a letter to Jason Tarry, the CEO of Tesco, expressing their concern about the company using equipment by the Chinese surveillance technology companies Dahua and Hikvison in its supermarkets, which are complicit in state repression in Tibetan and East Turkestan (Xinjiang).

“Hikvision and Dahua cameras are used in “re-education” camps throughout the Uyghur region. In Tibet, Hikvision equipment is known to be used by local authorities, including the Public Security Bureau and in detention centres. Hikvision forms part of a wider network of surveillance installed by the Chinese government over the past two decades with the aim of ensuring that dissidents and potential protestors are quickly identified and detained,” the letter by Free Tibet and its allies stated. 

The sale and import of Hikvision and Dahua are prohibited by the United States, Scotland and other countries and institutions due to security reasons. The Welsh government made a similar commitment, and last year; the European Parliament voted to remove the Hikvision citing, “an unacceptable risk that Hikvision, through its operations in Xinjiang, is contributing to serious human rights abuses,” the joint letter further stated while demanding other UK companies to similarly acknowledge the security risks and stop procuring Hikvision and Dahua surveillance technology at the soonest possibility. 

Following a positive response from the CEO of Tesco, Tenzin Kunga, Advocacy Officer at Free Tibet, said, “Tesco has set a good example here: they have  listened to our evidence about how Hikvision is complicit in human rights abuses against Tibetans, Hongkongers and Uyghurs and have committed to taking decisive action. That being said, there are still an estimated 1.2 million Hikvision cameras in the UK. Only a proper government ban will see them removed. Until then, equipment used in the interrogation and torture of my fellow Tibetans will continue to monitor us on Britain’s streets.”

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