EU staff reject use of Chinese giant Hikvision’s surveillance equipment over Uyghur repression
President Cristiano Sebastiani, representing thousands of staff, wrote a letter to Johannes Hahn, regarding the thermal imaging systems used by the EU, produced by Hikvision, which provides surveillance system for brutal Uyghur “re-education camps”Updated: Nov 13, 2020, 19:21 IST
Thousands of staff employed at the European Union’s(EU) institutions have rejected the use of Chinese video surveillance provider Hikvision technologies in light of the company’s association with China’s human rights abuses and specifically the oppression of millions of Uyghurs.
President Cristiano Sebastiani of the leading European Institution Trade Union, Renouveau & Democratie, representing thousands of staff employed in the European offices, wrote a letter to Johannes Hahn, Commissioner in charge of Budget and Human Resources for the EU Institutions on Wednesday regarding the thermal imaging systems used by the European Commission and the European Parliament, produced by the Chinese technology giant Hikvision, according to a press statement.
The Hikvision cameras have been placed at entrances throughout the European Parliament and installed in the European Commission’s main offices, the Berlaymont and Charlemagne buildings, the statement noted.
The Chinese company Hikvision has been accused of being linked to the oppression of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in East Turkistan, China’s Xinjiang province, including providing surveillance equipment used in the brutal “re-education camps”.
The Chinese government holds a 40 per cent controlling stake in Hikvision via the state-owned China Electronics Technology Group Corporation.
A leaked German Foreign Ministry report estimates that 1 million Uyghur in China are being detained without trial. Ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and members of other Muslim minority groups are also being imprisoned, the report said.
Sebastiani’ letter comes after German Member of European Parliament (MEP) Reinhard Butikofer, head of the European Parliament delegation to China, denounced that the use of Hikvision technology by the European institutions as “extremely worrying” since “Hikvision is a technology company which is deeply complicit in the terrible oppression of the Uighur people in Xinjiang which borders on genocide” and that the European institutions should “immediately create transparency and draw the adequate consequences: i.e. sever any direct or indirect business relationship with Hikvision.”
Also, Charlie Weimers, Swedish MEP from the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, said that: “The EU should have no dealings whatsoever with a Chinese firm that is alleged to be involved in some of the most abhorrent human rights abuses in the world” and that “Nobel Prize winners should adhere to a higher standard.”
Svenja Hahn, German MEP from the Renew Europe group, addressed a letter to President European Parliament David Sassoli, saying that she found “it outrageous that European taxpayers’ money has been used to purchase monitoring equipment from a company that with their products enables mass surveillance, oppression of minorities and massive breaches of human rights”.
The use of Hikvision technology by the European institutions has provoked strong reactions from EU institutions staff as well and they have expressed their discontent at having to come face to face with a company accused of contributing to human rights violations in China.
Concerning the management of personal data, the spokesperson of the European Parliament confirmed that “the equipment is neither connected to the Parliament’s computer network nor records any data”.