China forcing birth control on Muslim Uighurs to suppress population

Muslim Uighurs are China's most oppressed ethnic group.

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China is imposing oppressive measures to slash the birth rates among Uighurs as part of a sweeping campaign to suppress its Muslim population, according to a new investigation.

Uighur women grieving for their men who they claim were taken away by the Chinese authorities. (© Ng Han Guan/AP Images)

While individual women have voiced out before about forced birth control, the practice is more systematic than previously known. These facts have been ascertained according to an investigation by AP based on state documents, government statistics, and interviews with 30 ex-detainees, family members, and a former detention camp instructor.

The campaign over the past five years in Xinjiang is leading to what some experts are calling a form of “demographic genocide.”

Interviews and data show the state regularly subjects Muslim women to pregnancy checks and forces intrauterine devices, sterilization, and even abortion on hundreds of thousands. Also, while the use of IUDs and sterilization has fallen nationwide, it is increasing sharply in Xinjiang.

The population control measures are backed by torture and mass detention as a punishment for failure to comply. Having too many children is a primary reason people are sent to concentration camps, with the parents of three or more snatched away from their families, unless they can pay huge fines. Police raid homes, terrifying parents as they search for hidden children.

A demolished mosque is seen in Kashgar city, in China's northwest Xinjiang province. (Photo courtesy of Bahram Sintash)
Mosques are rapidly being destroyed by Beijing in Xinjiang. (Credits: Bahram Sintash)

According to the latest available government statistics, birth rates in the mainly Uighur regions of Hotan and Kashgar plunged by more than 60% from 2015 to 2018. Across Xinjiang, birth rates continue to fall, plunging nearly 24% last year alone – contrasted with just 4.2% nationwide, statistics show.

Gulnar Omirzakh, the poor wife of a detained vegetable trader, was given three days to pay a $2,685 (approximately Rs.452,000) fine for having more than two children.

If she did comply, she would be forcefully sent to concentration camps where her husband and a million other members of Muslim ethnic minorities are locked up.

Alif Baqytali hugs his mother, Gulnar Omirzakh. (Photo: Mukhit Toktassyn, AP)

Zumret Dawut, another former Muslim detainee, says she was forcibly sterilized along with about 200 others and has lost her identity as a result.

“They want to eliminate us, but they cannot kill all of us,” she said. “They are doing it step by step with policies such as sterilization, imprisonment, and separating women and men and making them work as forced laborers.”

The birth control is part of Beijing’s greater campaign to strip the Uighurs, and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, of their religion and culture, and assimilate them into the Han Chinese culture.

Fatima, a nine-years-old Uighur child, is a refugee in Turkey. Her parents are locked up in concentration camps in Xinjiang. (Photo by Ozan KOSE / AFP)

Muslims in Xinjiang are forbidden to fast in Ramadan, cannot keep a beard or wear niqab, and Muslim women are forced to sleep with Han Chinese men while their husbands are tortured in the concentration camps.

China has locked more than a million Muslims in concentration camps, with experts calling it “a holocaust in the 21st century”.

A Chinese government social media post shows detainees in a camp in Hotan Prefecture. [Image obtained by HRW]


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