Thousands of employees of European Union (EU) institutions have rejected the use of Chinese video surveillance provider Hikvision’s technologies in light of the company’s association with human rights abuses in China and in particular the oppression of millions of Uyghurs.
President Cristiano Sebastiani of the main union of the European institutions, Renouveau & Démocratie, representing thousands of people employed in the European offices, wrote a letter on Wednesday to Johannes Hahn, Commissioner responsible for budget and human resources for the EU institutions regarding thermal imaging. systems used by the European Commission and the European Parliament, produced by Chinese technology giant Hikvision, according to a press release.
The Hikvision cameras were placed at the entrances to the European Parliament and installed in the main offices of the European Commission, the Berlaymont and Charlemagne buildings, the statement said.
Chinese company Hikvision has been accused of being linked to the oppression of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in East Turkestan, China’s Xinjiang province, including providing surveillance equipment used in brutal “re-education camps” .
The Chinese government holds a controlling 40% stake in Hikvision through the state-owned China Electronics Technology Group Corporation.
A leaked report from the German Foreign Ministry estimates that one million Uyghurs in China are being held without trial. Ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and members of other Muslim minority groups are also in jail, according to the report.
Sebastiani’s letter comes after German Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Reinhard Butikofer, head of the European Parliament’s delegation to China, denounced the use of Hikvision technology by European institutions as “extremely worrying” since ” Hikvision is a technology company which is deeply complicit in the terrible oppression of the Uyghur people in Xinjiang which borders on genocide “and that the European institutions should” immediately create transparency and draw the appropriate consequences: that is to say sever any direct or indirect commercial relationship with Hikvision ”.
In addition, Charlie Weimers, Swedish MEP from the European Conservatives and Reformists group, said: “The EU should have no relationship with a Chinese company that is allegedly involved in some of the most heinous human rights violations in the world. world ”and that“ Nobel laureates must adhere to a higher standard. “
Svenja Hahn, German MEP for Renew Europe, wrote to European Parliament President David Sassoli, saying she found “scandalous that European taxpayers’ money was used to buy surveillance equipment from a company which, with its products, enables mass surveillance, oppression of minorities and massive violations of human rights ”.
The use of Hikvision technology by the European institutions also provoked strong reactions from the staff of the European institutions and they expressed their displeasure at having to find themselves facing a company accused of contributing to human rights violations. in China.
Regarding the management of personal data, the European Parliament spokesperson confirmed that “the equipment is neither connected to the Parliament’s computer network nor does it record data”.