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Report: China's Birth-Control Policy On Uyghur Women May Amount To 'Genocide'

A Uyghur woman holds her baby in a night market in Hotan, in China's western Xinjiang region.

China is forcing women to be sterilized or use contraceptive devices in an attempt to limit the population of Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim minority groups in the western Xinjiang region, according to new research published on June 29.

The report, conducted by China expert Adrian Zenz, says China's policies may amount to slow-motion demographic “genocide.”

The report led to calls for an international investigation into China, which called the allegations "baseless."

Beijing has already faced condemnation for placing more than 1 million Uyghurs and members of other mostly Muslim ethnic groups in Xinjiang in concentration camps since early 2017.

China says the camps are reeducation and training centers needed to combat separatist terrorism and extremism.

Uyghurs are the largest Turkic-speaking indigenous community in Xinjiang followed by Kazakhs. The region is also home to ethnic Kyrgyz, Tajiks, and Hui, also known as Dungans. Han, China's largest ethnicity, is the second-largest community in Xinjiang.

Zenz's report uses Chinese government documents, regional data, and interviews to show systematic reproductive repression against non-ethnic Han people in Xinjiang.

"Since a sweeping crackdown starting in late 2016 transformed Xinjiang into a draconian police state, witness accounts of intrusive state interference into reproductive autonomy have become ubiquitous," the report says.

It says Uyghur women and other ethnic minorities are being threatened with internment or forced into the camps for violations of draconian birth-control policies.

Grounds for punishment include refusing to abort pregnancies that exceed birth quotas.

Some women who had fewer than the legally permitted limit of two children – three in rural areas – were forced to use invasive intrauterine contraceptive devices (IUDs).

It also reports that women are being coerced into receiving sterilization surgeries or given injections that stopped their periods, or caused unusual menstrual bleeding indicating birth-control use.

China also continues a policy of forced family separations to indoctrinate families, the report says.

Government documents also revealed Uyghur women in rural communities received frequent mandatory gynecological exams and pregnancy tests from local health officials.

The analysis of government data shows a dramatic fall in the natural population growth in Xinjiang, with rates in two of the largest Uyghur prefectures falling by 84 percent between 2015 and 2018. Rates continued to decline in 2019.

Chinese government documents also showed mass female-sterilization campaigns in southern Xinjiang aimed at rural Uyghur women with three or more children, as well as some with two children.

The report finds that Xinjiang planned to subject 20 percent of women of childbearing age in four rural minority prefectures to IUDs or sterilization.

In a sign of how focused birth-prevention surgeries are in the region, 80 percent of all new IUD placements in China were performed in Xinjiang in 2018, despite the region only accounting for 1.8 percent of the country's population.

It has been previously reported that the Chinese Communist Party is promoting ethnic Han men to marry Uyghur women -- some of whose husbands may have been interned in camps or died there.

In other efforts to change the population balance of Xinjiang, China is offering land, jobs, and economic subsidies to attract Han migrants there.

The report accuses Beijing of engaging in "a policy of Han settler colonialism."

It says the findings provide "the strongest evidence yet" that China's policies in Xinjiang meet one of the criteria of the UN Convention on Genocide prohibiting "measures intended to prevent births within the group."

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo demanded an end to the Chinese Communist Party's "utter disregard for the sanctity of human life and basic human dignity."

The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, a group of North American, European, and Australian members of parliament from a range of political parties, said that they would push for a UN investigation "to decide whether or not crimes against humanity or genocide have taken place."

With reporting by AFP and AP
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