China is forcing women to be sterilized or equipped with contraceptive devices in Xinjiang in an apparent attempt to limit the population of Uighur Muslims, according to new research.
The report, by Chinese academic Adrian Zenz, has sparked international calls for the United Nations to investigate.
China denies the allegations in the report, calling them “unfounded.”
The state already faces widespread criticism for keeping Uighurs in detention camps.
Nearly a million Uighurs and other majority Muslim minorities are believed to be detained in China in what the state defines as “re-education” camps.
China previously denied the camps existed, before defending them as a necessary measure against terrorism, following separatist violence in the Xinjiang region.
United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on China to “immediately end these horrible practices.”
In a statement, he called on “all nations to unite with the United States to demand an end to these dehumanizing abuses.”
China has faced increasing global scrutiny over its treatment of Uighurs in recent years. An investigation by the BBC in 2019 suggested that children in Xinjiang were being systematically separated from their families in an effort to isolate them from their Muslim communities.
What is in the report?
Zenz’s report was based on a combination of official regional data, policy documents, and interviews with ethnic minority women in Xinjiang.
She alleges that Uighur women and other ethnic minorities are being threatened with internment in the camps for refusing to abort pregnancies that exceed birth quotas.
It also says that women who had fewer than the two legally allowed children were unintentionally equipped with intrauterine devices (IUDs), while others were forced to undergo sterilization surgeries.
“Since widespread repression that began in late 2016 transformed Xinjiang into a draconian police state, witness reports of intrusive state intrusions on reproductive autonomy have become ubiquitous,” the report says.
According to Zenz data analysis, natural population growth in Xinjiang has slowed dramatically in recent years, with growth rates falling by 84% in the two largest Uighur prefectures between 2015 and 2018, and further declining. in 2019.
“This type of fall is unprecedented, there is a cruelty to it,” Zenz told the Associated Press. “This is part of a broader control campaign to subjugate the Uighurs.”
Former detainees in internment camps in Xinjiang said they received injections that interrupted their periods, or caused unusual bleeding consistent with the effects of contraceptive drugs.
“In general, the Xinjiang authorities are likely to be involved in the mass sterilization of women with three or more children,” the report said.
Politicians call for UN investigation
In a statement Monday, the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), an international group of political parties that includes Conservative MP Parliamentarian Iain Duncan Smith, Baroness Helena Kennedy QC and US Senator Marco Rubio, called on the UN to “establish a international, impartial and independent investigation into the situation in the Xinjiang region. “
“There is now a large body of evidence alleging mass incarceration, indoctrination, extrajudicial detention, invasive surveillance, forced labor, and the destruction of Uighur cultural sites, including cemeteries, along with other forms of abuse,” the statement said.
“The world cannot remain silent in the face of unfolding atrocities. Our countries are bound by the solemn obligation to prevent and punish any effort to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group ‘in whole or in part'” .
Coverage of China’s hidden camps.
According to an Associated Press report released Monday, women in Xinjiang have faced exorbitant fines and threats of internment for violating maternity limits.
Gulnar Omirzakh, a Chinese-born Kazakh, was ordered to insert an IUD after having his third child, the AP reported. Two years later, in January 2018, four military camouflage officers knocked on his door anyway and handed over Omirzakh, the penniless wife of a detained vegetable trader, three days to pay a fine of RMB 17,500 (£ 2,000) for having more than two children.
She was reportedly warned that she would join her husband in an internment camp if she refused to pay.
“God leaves him children. Preventing people from having children is wrong,” Omirzakh told the AP. “They want to destroy us as a people.”
In response to Monday’s report, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said the allegations were “unfounded” and showed “hidden motives”.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian accused the media of “fabricating false information on issues related to Xinjiang.”
For decades, under China’s one-child policy, urban minorities were allowed two children, or three for rural families. A policy change in 2017, under President Xi Jinping, removed ethnic distinction, allowing Han Chinese to have the same number of children as minorities, while retaining the urban-rural distinction.
But according to the AP, the Han Chinese have largely escaped abortions, sterilizations, insertions, and IUD arrests implemented against minority populations, including Uighurs.
Zenz’s report characterizes the alleged coercive birth control campaign in Xinjiang as part of a “demographic campaign of genocide” against the Uighurs.
“These findings provide the strongest evidence so far that Beijing’s policies in Xinjiang meet one of the genocide criteria cited in the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide,” he writes.