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China forcibly sterilizing Uighur women, forcing abortions: AP

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  • Chinese authorities are sterilizing Uighur Muslim women and forcing abortions on them, according to an Associated Press (AP) investigation.
  • Since 2017, at least 1 million Uighurs have been imprisoned at detention camps as part of moves by Beijing to stamp out their culture and ethnicity.
  • The AP reported that Uighur women are regularly made to take pregnancy tests and forced into abortions if they test positive.
  • The number of forced abortions, based on government documents seen by the AP, is in the “hundreds of thousands.”
  • Women have also been forcibly fitted with intrauterine devices (IUD) to prevent pregnancy, and in some cases, women have been outright sterilized, the AP said.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

New evidence has come to light exposing the draconian tactics Chinese authorities are using to persecute Uighur Muslims, including forced abortions, birth control, and sterilization.

The report, from The Associated Press (AP), cites evidence from 30 former prisoners and a former detention camp instructor, as well as data from government statistics and state documents.

Since in 2016, China has interned at least 1 million Uighurs in more than 500 prisons, which it euphemistically calls “reeducation centers” or “vocational skills education centers.” They are, in reality, concentration camps designed to brainwash and force Uighurs to abandon their heritage and religion.

One tactic used by authorities at the camps and in Xinjiang, the Uighur heartland also known as East Turkestan, has been to crack down on the birth rate, the AP reported. According to the AP, they are doing it by:

  • Regularly subjecting women to pregnancy tests.
  • Forcing those who test positive to have abortions. (The AP said the number of forced abortions could number in the “hundreds of thousands.”)
  • Forcibly fitted women with intrauterine devices (IUD) to prevent pregnancy.
  • Force-feeding Uighur women birth control pills or injecting them with fluids — without saying what they are — that make them sterile.

Reports of forced abortions and sterilization have been reported in the past, but the AP investigation shows that the forced birth control is much more widespread than previously thought.

The AP also found that one major reason why Uighurs are sent to camps is if they are deemed to have too many children.

One Chinese-born Kazakh woman, the AP said, was ordered by the government to get an IUD inserted after her third child.

She was later told to pay a $2,685 fine for having more than two children. The AP said it spoke with 15 Uighurs who knew people jailed for having more than three children.

THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS - MARCH 05: Human rights activists display dolls which they say depicts thousands of missing ethnic Chinese Uighur outside the Chinese embassy on March 5, 2020 in The Hague, Netherlands. (Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty Images)

Human rights activists outside the Chinese embassy on March 5, 2020 in The Hague, Netherlands.

Pierre Crom/Getty Images


Additionally, “women are subjected to forced IUDs” and “pregnancy prevention shots,” several ex-inmates told the AP.

“Many felt dizzy, tired or ill, and women stopped getting their periods,” the AP wrote. “After being released and leaving China, some went to get medical check-ups and found they were sterile.”

Between 2016 and 2018, the number of sterilizations rose seven times in Xinjiang, the AP said.

Birth rates in Xinjiang have plummeted in recent years, largely as a result of the crackdown. The rate fell nearly 24% in 2019, the AP said.

Hong Kong Uighur protest masks.JPG

Hong Kong protesters rally in support of Xinjiang Uighurs’ human rights in Hong Kong, China, December 22, 2019.

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson


“The parents of three or more” are “ripped away from their families unless they can pay huge fines,” the AP said. “Police raid homes, terrifying parents as they search for hidden children.”

Beijing’s mission to erase Uighur culture

Beijing is on a mission to erase non-Han Chinese culture. As Business Insider’s Alexandra Ma previously reported, it “sees all Uighur people as terrorists” and often use religious extremism as a reason to crack down on them.

The government is harnessing tech to monitor the population, including installing spyware on Uighurs’ phones, identifying them via a file-sharing app, and installing hundreds of thousands of facial-recognition cameras across Xinjiang.

xinjiang uighur qr code

A government official scans a QR code on the wall of a house in Xinjiang, which gives him access to the residents’ personal information.

Xinjiang state radio via Human Rights Watch


At the camps, prisoners are forced to redecorate their homes to make them look traditionally Chinese and forced to sing propaganda songs to get food.

Prisoners are also subjected to medical experiments, and China has been accused of harvesting the organs of some Uighurs. It denies the claim.

Last week, the spotlight on China’s treatment of Uighur Muslims intensified, after former US national security advisor John Bolton wrote in his new tell-all book that Donald Trump said that Chinese premier Xi Jinping “should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do.

Shortly after reports about Bolton’s book were published, Trump signed a bill to sanction China over its Uighur oppression.

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