The International Journal of Legal Medicine and Human Genetics retracted the two articles that were published in 2019 on Sept. 7 and Aug. 30 respectively. The scientific journals are owned by academic publisher Springer Nature. Both articles study more than 100 DNA samples from Uyghur minorities in China’s Xinjiang region in order to recreate their faces and heights. They have been questioned on whether they obtained the subjects’ full consent for the collecting of samples for the study.
The Chinese communist regime has been systematically putting Uyghurs in internment camps and under heavy surveillance. The regime’s oppression of the Uyghurs has been identified as genocide by the international community.
The two articles have multiple co-authors, including Li Caixia, the chief forensic scientist at China’s Ministry of Public Security. The journals stated that they “requested supporting documentation from the authors, including the application form submitted to the ethics committee and evidence of ethics approval.” However, “the documents supplied by the authors contain insufficient information related to the scope of the study for us to remain confident that the protocols complied with our editorial policies or are in line with international ethical standards,” the journals said in their statements.
For years, international scientists have voiced their suspicions and moral concerns over whether the blood samples collected from the Uyghurs for the research are voluntarily given. According to The New York Times, many Uyghurs said they had no choice but to give their blood samples in a health check run by the Chinese communist regime.
For years, Yves Moreau, a professor of engineering at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, has been most vocal about the retractions of Chinese research articles using Uyghur DNA samples. He analyzed 529 studies involving genetics in China, and was surprised to find that between 2011 and 2018, about half of the co-authors of the research published in China were members of the Chinese police, army, or judicial department.
The Chinese regime’s Institute of Forensic Science that Li Caixia is working for has been blacklisted from accessing U.S. technology by the U.S. government since May 2020. The reason for the blacklisting given by the United States government is that the institute is “complicit in human rights violations and abuses committed in China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, forced labor, and high-technology surveillance” against Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.
The International Journal of Legal Medicine and Human Genetics noted that Li disputed the retractions on behalf of the other authors.
Regarding the retraction, Moreau said, “These lines are very clear,” adding, “You can’t say: ‘I didn’t know, I didn’t realize and I have no influence.”