China ‘forcibly sterilising’ women to reduce minority birth rates

China forcibly sterilising Uighur Muslims
Zumret Dawut, an Uighur woman, claims her fallopian tubes tubes were tied together (Picture: AP)


China is using sterilisation and other draconian measures to slash birth rates among Uighurs and other minorities, amid a campaign to curb its Muslim population, a bombshell report has revealed.

Individual women have spoken out before about forced birth control, but the practice is far more widespread and systematic than previously known, according to an Associated Press (AP) investigation based on government statistics, state documents and interviews with 30 ex-detainees, family members and a former detention camp instructor.

The Government campaign over the past four years in the far west Xinjiang region is leading to what some experts are calling a form of ‘demographic genocide’ – while the state encourages some of the country’s Han majority to have more children. Around a million people, mostly Uighurs, are believed to be in ‘concentration camps’ in China.

The Government regularly subjects minority women to pregnancy checks, and forces intrauterine devices (IUDs), sterilisation and even abortion on hundreds of thousands, the interviews and data show.

Though the use of IUDs and sterilisation has fallen nationwide, it is rising sharply in Xinjiang.

Zumret Dawut, a Uighur woman from China’s far western Xinjiang region, says she was fined $2,600 for having a third child and that a doctor tied her fallopian tubes.

She told AP that after after waking from the anesthesia, she felt her womb ache – as though it was missing something.

Having been released from a camp, Ms Dawut explained: ‘We lost part of our body, we lost our identity as women, we will never be able to have children again.

‘They’ve cut out one of our organs. It’s gone.’

The population control measures are backed up by mass detention, which is used as a threat and a punishment for failing to comply.

Having too many children is a major reason people are sent to detention camps, AP found, with the parents of three or more ripped away from their families unless they can pay huge fines.

Police raid homes, terrifying parents as they search for hidden children.

Zumret Dawut, a Uighur woman from China's far western Xinjiang region, holds a phone with a picture of her kids at her home in Woodbridge, Va., on Monday, June 15, 2020.
Ms Dawut holds a picture of her children at home (Picture: AP)


Zumret Dawut, a Uighur from China's far western Xinjiang region, holds documents she brought with her, at her new home in Woodbridge, Va., on Monday, June 15, 2020
She says she was forcibly sterilised for having a third child after being released from a Xinjiang detention camp (Picture: AP)


After Gulnar Omirzakh, a Chinese-born Kazakh, had her third child, the government ordered her to get an IUD inserted.

Two years later, in January 2018, four officials in military camouflage came knocking at her door anyway.

They gave Ms Omirzakh, the penniless wife of a detained vegetable trader, three days to pay a 2,685 US dollars fine for having more than two children.

If she did not, they warned, she would join her husband and a million other ethnic minorities locked up in internment camps, often for having too many children.

Workers walk by the perimeter fence of what is officially known as a vocational skills education centre in Dabancheng in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China September 4, 2018.
A file photo of what is officially known as a ‘vocational skills education centre’ in Dabancheng, Xinjiang (Picture: Reuters)


The receipt for a fine levied on Zumret Dawut, a Uighur woman from China's far western Xinjiang region, for having too many children.
The receipt for a fine handed to Zumret Dawut for having too many children (Picture: AP)


She said: ‘I didn’t have a penny to pay the fine. So I prepared myself.

‘I was renting a house, my husband was in a camp. When they heard (I’d be detained too) my eldest daughter cried and my youngest daughter sobbed and said: “where will we stay? Who will take care of us if you go?”’

Ms Omirzakh, who gets tearful thinking back to the events, added: ‘God bequeaths children on you. To prevent people from having children is wrong.

‘They want to destroy us as a people.’

An Uighur child plays alone in the courtyard of a home at the Unity New Village in Hotan, in western China's Xinjiang region.
An Uighur child plays alone in the courtyard of a home Xinjiang region (Picture: AP)


The result of the birth control campaign is a climate of terror around having children, highlighted by numerous interviews.

Birth rates in the mostly Uighur regions of Hotan and Kashgar plunged by more than 60% from 2015 to 2018, the latest year available in government statistics.

Across the Xinjiang region, birth rates continue to plummet, falling nearly 24% last year alone, compared to just 4.2% nationwide, statistics show.

China’s foreign ministry called the story ‘fabricated’ and ‘fake news’, saying the government treats all ethnicities equally and protects the legal rights of minorities.

Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said: ‘Everyone, regardless of whether they’re an ethnic minority or Han Chinese, must follow and act in accordance with the law.’

Last month, revealed fears among Uighurs that coronavirus could be used to cover up ‘concentration camp’ deaths.

In the UK, the revelations caused a string of condemnation from across Parliament, with politicians from various parties calling for action against China.

Former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith called for an end to the ‘business as usual’ approach with the country.

Labour’s Yasmin Qureshi said it was about time the Government ‘went to the UN and asked for a resolution from the assembly to establish an independent investigation into the situation in Xinjiang region’.

For more stories like this, check our news page.

Follow us:

Share this:

Something to say?