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UN urged to probe China’s forced birth control on Muslims

24th Jul 2020
UN urged to probe China’s forced birth control on Muslims

Uyghur women at the Grand Bazaar in Kashgar, Xinjiang (Credit: David Stanley/Flickr Commons)

Harun Nasrullah

Politicians from around the world have called for a UN investigation into the Chinese Government birth control campaign targeting largely Muslim minorities in the Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), following an exposé investigation by the Associated Press.

The report by China scholar Adrian Zenz shows the Chinese Government has been orchestrating a four-year-old “demographic genocide” campaign that entails adopting draconian measures to lower birth rates among Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities while encouraging some of the country’s Han majority to have more children.

The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC) cites “a body of mounting evidence” of alleged “mass incarceration, indoctrination, extrajudicial detention, invasive surveillance, forced labour, and the destruction of Uighur cultural sites,” as the basis for action by the UN General Assembly.

“This may indicate that the Chinese Government is pursuing and enforcing a coordinated policy to reduce the population of minority groups. The world cannot remain silent in the face of unfolding atrocities,” said the statement by IPAC, including Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith and Baroness Helena Kennedy QC.

The investigation was based on Government statistics, state documents and interviews with 30 ex-detainees, family members and a former detention camp instructor.

The exposé revealed that authorities subjected ethnic minority women to pregnancy checks, and forces intrauterine devices (IUDs), sterilization and even abortion on hundreds of thousands. And even while IUDs and sterilization have fallen nationwide, it is rising sharply in XUAR.

The population control measures are backed by mass detention both as a threat and as a punishment for failure to comply, AP said. Having too many children is a major reason people are sent to detention camps with the parents of three or more ripped away from their families unless they can pay huge fines.

The result of the birth control campaign is a climate of terror around having children, according to the AP interviews. Birth rates in the mostly Uyghur regions of Hotan and Kashgar plunged by more than 60 per cent from 2015 to 2018, the latest year available in Government statistics. Across XUAR, birth rates continue to plummet, falling nearly 24 per cent last year alone — compared to just 4.2 per cent nationwide, statistics show.

Fifteen Uyghurs and Kazakhs told the AP they knew people interned or jailed for having too many children. Many received years, even decades in prison.
The success of China’s push to control births among Muslim minorities also shows up in the numbers for IUDs and sterilization.

In 2014, just over 200,000 IUDs were inserted in XUAR. By 2018, that jumped more than 60 per cent to nearly 330,000 IUDs. At the same time, IUD use tumbled elsewhere in China, as many women began getting the devices removed.

Budget documents show that starting in 2016, the XUAR government began pumping tens of millions of dollars into a birth control surgery programme and cash incentives for women to get sterilised. While sterilization rates plunged in the rest of the country, they surged sevenfold in XUAR from 2016 to 2018, to more than 60,000 procedures.

The Uyghur-majority city of Hotan budgeted for 14,872 sterilizations in 2019 — about 34 percent of all married women of childbearing age.

“The findings of this report confirm what many Uyghurs have dreaded for the past three years: the Chinese government is trying to erase us,” said World Uyghur Congress President Dolkun Isa. “Not just our language, history, culture, religion, and ethnic identity, but for us as people, we have to be direct and honest about what we are experiencing.

This is genocide. The AP said the Chinese Foreign Ministry referred multiple requests for comment to the XUAR Government, which did not respond. However, Chinese officials have said in the past that the new measures are merely meant to be fair, allowing both Han Chinese and ethnic minorities the same number of children.

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Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

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