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Coerced sterilisation of Uyghur women in Xinjiang

A recent study by German researcher, Adrian Zenz, has revealed that China’s birth control policies could reduce the Uyghur population in Xinjiang by a third over the next 20 years. In that time, China’s regional policies could lead to a cut between 2.6 and 4.5 million births. According to official Chinese statistics, between 2017 and 2019 there has already been a 48.7% decline in birth rates for ethnic minorities. The report stated:

“This [research and analysis] really shows the intent behind the Chinese government’s long-term plan for the Uyghur population.”

China has recently announced a three child policy, however, documents and testimonies have shown that women in Xinjiang are still being subjected to arbitrary detention and punishments for exceeding birth control quotas. Furthermore, reports show that the government has purposefully moved people from the mainstream Han Chinese population into Xinjiang neighbourhoods which are dominated by Uyghurs while transferring local Uyghurs out of Xinjiang. 

So far the Chinese government has denied  allegations of Uyghur genocide and insists that any drop in the ethnic minority birth rates is due to the implementation of general birth quotas and improved family planning. Adrian Zenz’s study however paints a different picture, documenting testimonies from Uyghur women who recall being threatened to abort pregnancies, being involuntarily fitted with intrauterine devices, and coerced into sterilisation. Zenz commented that the Xinjiang authorities:

“planned to subject at least 80% of women of childbearing age in the rural southern four minority prefectures to intrusive birth prevention surgeries, referring to IUDs or sterilisations.”

There has also been evidence of Uyghurs being extradited and deported from Muslim countries, raising concern about China’s global outreach regarding the ethnic minority. Abduweli Ayup, a Uyghur activist based in Oslo, has documented at least 28 separate Uyghur deportations between 2017 and 2019; Two from the United Arab Emirates, five from Saudi Arabia, and 21 from Egypt. Ayup commented that the numbers are likely to be much higher, with many Uyghur families afraid to go public in case the attention jeopardises the safety of their loved ones.  

Amannisa Abdullah, who’s husband was arrested in UAE and extradited to China where he has been held for three years, stated that neither UAE or Chinese authorities have explained why her husband is being detained. Similar cases have been seen in Saudi Arabia where at least two separate Uyghur Muslims were arrested and deported after performing pilgrimages.  

Families of the deported Uyghurs fear that they have been sent to one of Xinjiang’s Uyghur internment camps. So far, an estimated 2 million Uyghurs have been sent to these internment camps, causing several countries, including the US, Canada, and the Netherlands, to accuse China of Genocide.

While China maintains that the Xinjiang internment camps are “vocational training centres” set up to target terrorism and extremism, there have been testimonies describing the camps as centres of indoctrination which are intended to “de-Islamise” Uyghurs while forcing them to view Communist Party propaganda and learn mandarin. Furthermore, there have been several recorded instances of sexual abuse, torture, forced labour, and even the death of detainees in the camps.

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