Abbas Masjedi, the head of the Legal Medicine Organization of Iran

Iran Plans To Create DNA Bank Of Journalists

Sunday, 03/03/2024

The Iranian government's plan to create a DNA bank of people in "high-risk" professions, including journalists, has raised concerns that it could be used to crack down on dissent.

The plan, announced by the head of the Legal Medicine Organization of Iran, Abbas Masjedi, would involve collecting genetic samples from firefighters, flight crews, armed forces, forest rangers, mine workers, and journalists.

Masjedi said that the plan is intended to help identify victims of accidents and disasters, but critics say it could also be used to track and identify individuals who are critical of the government.

The plan can be seen as an attempt to intimidate and silence journalists because the regime can easily use of possible DNA evidence to target its critics.

The plan has also drawn comparisons to China's DNA database, which has been used to track and monitor Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang province.

The Chinese government has shown how DNA databases can be used to suppress dissent, said Maya Wang, a senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch, suggesting that the Iranian government is taking a page out of China's playbook.

“Human Rights Watch has documented that mass collection and cataloging of people’s DNA form a part of the Chinese police’s countrywide mass surveillance systems, which involves the use of facial and voice recognition technology, big data platforms, among other technologies," she said, adding, “These technologies have empowered the Chinese government to maintain a vice-like grip on a complex society, from cities to its most remote borderlands, hunting down dissidents and neutralizing protests.”

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