Further evidence of China forcing abortions on Uighur women

Further details have emerged about the Chinese Government forcing women into unwanted abortions and surgical sterilisations in an attempt to limit the Uighur minority population.

Last month, an investigative report highlighted the brutal treatment of women and unborn babies through the eyewitness accounts of those affected.

It was released alongside damning new research by German researcher Dr Adrian Zenz, which argued the severe human rights abuses in Xinjiang met the United Nation’s criteria for genocide.

Now, a number of women have shared their heartbreaking stories with the Mail on Sunday about the abortions they have been forced into.

Sumayya: Forced to have eight abortions

Sumayya’s (a pseudonym) story is perhaps the most harrowing story of those disclosed.

Initially, she was relatively protected from strict birth control measures and forced abortions, as her husband was the only son of a senior local party official.

But, he lost power soon after the birth of Sumayya’s third child.

Sumayya has since been forced to have eight abortions.

“I would cry each time,” she said.

“Usually the nurses would take it away, saying if it was a boy or a girl. One time when the baby came out, it was obviously a boy and I could hold his little hand. I slept with him all night, crying beside him.”

After becoming pregnant again in 2016, medics said her body was so damaged by the previous forced abortions that she must spend weeks in hospital preparing for another termination.

Instead, she decided to flee. Her husband was subsequently arrested, while other relatives cut off contact, scared of all the surveillance.

Desperate to find her daughter back home, Sumayya traced her through social media with the help of a neighbour.

Aware they are being monitored, Sumayya and her 17-year-old daughter sometimes just sit there silently weeping together.

Sumayya said: “My daughter texts me to say that she is losing all hope in life. I am so worried about her I cannot sleep more than a couple of hours. I tell her to focus on her studies but she responds aggressively that she is done with hope.

“How is this fair? Why are we treated worse than animals just because we are Uighurs?”

Amina Mamtimin: ‘All I can do is hope we will one day meet again’

When Amina Mamtimin became pregnant with her fifth child four years ago, she knew she had to leave her country or risk losing her baby to a forced abortion.  

“I was very happy to be having a baby but also so scared,” she said.

“[Women] are forced to have abortions and then stopped from having more kids. It was happening to almost everyone in my neighbourhood.”

As Amina had already given birth to four children, two more than is currently permitted by China’s two-child limit, she and her family decided to flee from China.

Amina’s third and fourth child had been registered as belonging to her sister, but the family knew they couldn’t dupe Communist Party officials by doing the same with their fifth child. 

The family applied for passports, but only Amina and her youngest daughter were successful.

Amina agreed with her husband, Kurbanjan, that she must go first to save their fast-growing child in her womb.

The plan was for the rest of the family to follow.

“But they never made it,” Amina revealed.

Her husband was jailed for 15 years, disappearing into China’s sinister network of ‘re-education centres’ and prisons. She doesn’t know the whereabouts of her other three children, aged between nine and 12.

Now living in Turkey with her daughter and new son, Abdullah, she said: “All I can do is hope we will one day meet again – but for now I feel barely alive and can’t feel any happiness.”

Far from unique

Tragically, stories like Amina’s are far from unique. Amina was one of about 25 Uighur women who spoke to the Mail on Sunday in Istanbul, Turkey.

One woman revealed how, like Amina, she had fled China in a panic during her pregnancy.

Unlike Amina, she managed to escape with one of her children and her husband.

However, when he returned to China after ten days to collect their other children – he was detained.

“I’ve never heard from him again,” the woman explained.

Before the end of 2018, she was scrolling through news feeds on her phone in Istanbul when she spotted her daughter singing in a video that had been filmed in a state-run orphanage called Angel’s Garden.

Zumret Abdullah: ‘They just threw the foetus in a plastic bag like it was trash’

Zumret Abdullah estimated she must have seen about 90 forced abortions in three years whilst working as a nurse on a hospital maternity ward at Urumqi Medical University.

She disclosed how expectant mothers were made to swallow medical abortion pills or, in cases where the mother was more than five months pregnant, had to have fatal injections into the heads of their unborn child.

“I witnessed a lot of tragedies there,” the young healthcare professional said.

“The husbands were not allowed inside. They take in the women, who are always crying. Afterwards, they just threw the foetus in a plastic bag like it was trash. One mother begged to die after her seven-month-old baby was killed. It took three more days to give birth. It was a proper baby. She asked if they could bury it but the doctors would not give it to the family.

“These women suffered so much. Doctors would claim the women wanted abortions but then you would hear them chatting in the office and learn the truth.”

Unable to bear the trauma of forced abortions, Zumret eventually quit her job.

“I was having mental problems, seeing babies in my dreams. I still have nightmares,” she said.

All the victims were Uighur, despite many of China’s Han population moving to Urumqi, the regional capital.

“It never happened to a [Han] Chinese person once. This was just to control the Uighur population,” Zumret said.

Rahima Muhammad: Attempting to make a difference

Rahima Muhammad spent six years working in a clinic for women that had up to 100 abortion appointments each day.

Due to the large number of women suffering health problems from brutal birth control methods and the number of women attempting to give birth at home alone, Rahima opened an illegal healthcare clinic hidden behind a pharmacy to help women trying to save their babies.

“I could not make a difference at the hospital but after I opened the clinic, more and more ladies came so I could not treat them all,” she said.

One of Rahima’s patients was a woman about seven months pregnant who pleaded for her baby to be induced prematurely since she was being chased by Chinese authorities to have an abortion.

Eventually, Rahima agreed, but the baby’s lungs were under-developed and it had breathing problems.

“I tried to persuade her to go to the hospital but she refused, so in the end I took the baby to the hospital but it died. I have never forgotten the baby’s face. This is why I cannot accept that we were forced into this situation.”

Despite her efforts, Rahima said she still felt guilty she could not do more.

Like many other women, she fled the country for Turkey after giving birth to her fourth baby. This also meant closing the clinic which had offered hope to a number of Uighur women in Xinjiang.

Roshangul Tashmuhammad: Women routinely checked

Roshangul Tashmuhammad explained how Government officials in China routinely check women’s menstrual cycles to ensure they are not pregnant.

When police discovered Roshangul’s sister-in-law was expecting a baby for the second time, she was visited by police who said they must take her to the hospital for checks.

At the hospital, medical professionals claimed the baby had died in the womb so they forcibly aborted it.

Two years later, the same sister-in-law hid from the authorities during another pregnancy with the aim of giving birth.

However, this led to Roshangul’s brother being jailed for four years.

“They said his baby should not be alive,” Roshangul said.

Kalbinur Kamal: Forcibly sterilised

Kalbinur Kamal, a teacher among those forcibly sterilised said: “I had no option but to sign the [sterilisation authorisation] forms. The Chinese doctor said you must accept because if not we will do it by force anyway, so better to do it willingly.”

Huge bribes

Several people told the Mail on Sunday that their families had paid huge bribes to protect their babies, while others hid in homes or moved constantly to evade the authorities.

One doctor told me she paid about a year’s salary to register her third child. During a decade working as a paediatrician in Urumqi, she often faked papers saying infants could not hear or speak since this allowed families to have another child.

Painful legacy of one and two-child policies

Earlier this year, a Chinese mother, who was given a forced abortion after falling pregnant with her third child, was granted refugee status in New Zealand.

The family’s story offers a glimpse into how China’s former one-child policy and current two-child policy continue to leave a painful legacy.

Although China’s brutal one-child policy ended in 2015, it was replaced by a similarly draconian two-child policy and the devastating consequences of forced abortions, sterilizations, abandoned newborns, and Government abductions are still ongoing.

Chinese-born filmmakers Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang exposed some of the consequences of the policy by retelling some of the stories of those who lived through it. 

In their One Child Nation documentary, which can be viewed on Amazon Prime Video, an 84-year-old midwife revealed she was unsure how many babies she had delivered, but had performed a total of between 50,000 to 60,000 sterilizations and abortions.

“I counted this out of guilt, because I aborted and killed babies,” the midwife, Huaru Yuan, continues. “Many I induced alive and killed. My hands trembled doing it.”

One mother in China told the BBC that she would have liked a second child but was also forced to have an abortion.

She said: “You either go willingly or the government comes for you.”

Another mother told the BBC that before the one-child policy was relaxed, she was forced to have an abortion. Speaking of the ordeal she said: “My baby didn’t die immediately… it kept on struggling inside me.

“It broke my heart, the next day it was born still alive… it cried. The doctor said don’t look at it, you’ll have nightmares.”

Chinese authorities force abortions on Uighurs to suppress population

Abortions, contraceptive devices and surgical sterilisations measures are being forced upon women in Xinjiang in an apparent attempt to limit the population of Muslim Uighurs, according to new research.

While evidence of forced abortions and birth control has surfaced before, news agency AP has declared the practice is far more widespread and systematic than previously known.

The news agency argues the regime in China is attempting to slash the ethnic minority Uighur population in Xinjiang.

The investigative report highlights the brutal treatment of women and unborn babies through the eyewitness accounts of those affected. It has been released alongside damning new research by German researcher Dr Adrian Zenz.

In his report, Sterilizations, Forced Abortions, and Mandatory Birth Control: The CCP’s Campaign to Suppress Uyghur Birthrates in Xinjiang, Dr Zenz details the severe human rights abuses in Xinjiang and argues that these abuses meet the United Nation’s criteria for genocide.

Warning that the situation in Xinjiang has become “especially severe” in recent years, the report states: “Government documents bluntly mandate that birth control violations are punishable by extrajudicial internment in ‘training’ camps.”

Last year, Adrian Zenz estimated there were up to 1.5 million Uighur people and other minorities being detained in so-called political and religious “re-education” camps, sometimes referred to as “training” camps. 

Forced abortions

One former detainee, Tursunay Ziyawudun, told news agency AP that she was injected until she stopped having her period, and kicked repeatedly in the lower stomach during interrogations.

As a result, she now can’t have children and often doubles over in pain, bleeding from her womb.

Ziyawudun is among a number of women who have reported forced abortions to AP. She shared how a woman in another class turned out to be pregnant and disappeared from the camp.

Ziyawudun added that two of her cousins, who were pregnant at the time, “got rid of their children on their own because they were so afraid”.

She also revealed that a “teacher” at her camp told women they would face abortions if they were found to be pregnant during gynaecology exams.

Another woman, Gulbakhar Jalilova, confirmed that detainees in her camp were forced to abort their babies.

She also saw a new mum, still leaking breast milk, who did not know what had happened to her infant.

Jalilova said she had met doctors and medical students who were detained for helping Uighurs dodge the system and give birth at home.

Having too many children is also seen as a major reason people are sent to “re-education” camps, with parents of three or more children forcibly taken away from their families unless they can pay huge fines.

Police will often raid the homes of terrified parents searching for hidden children.

After Gulnar Omirzakh, a Chinese-born Kazakh, had her third child, authorities ordered her to get an intra-uterine device (IUD) – a long lasting method of birth control – fitted.

Despite her seemingly complying with the order, two years later, in January 2018, four officials in military camouflage came knocking at her door anyway.

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

She was warned if she couldn’t pay she would join her husband in a “re-education” camp.

A teary Omirzakh said: “They want to destroy us as a people.”

‘Huge psychological pressure’ 

A former teacher drafted to work as an instructor at a detention camp described her experience with IUDs to the AP.

She said Uighur residents had to chant: “If we have too many children, we’re religious extremists.”

As one of the officials in the teacher’s compound, she was told she needed to have an IUD fitted. But, she protested saying she was nearly 50 with just one child and no plans to have more.

Her protests were in vain though and she was forced into a bus with four armed officers and taken to a hospital where hundreds of Uighur women lined up in silence, waiting for IUDs to be inserted. Some wept quietly, but nobody dared say a word because of the surveillance cameras hanging overhead.

The former teacher said her IUD was designed to be irremovable and caused her headaches and non stop menstrual bleeding, during the first 15 days. 

“I couldn’t eat properly, I couldn’t sleep properly. It gave me huge psychological pressure,” she added. “Only Uighurs had to wear it.”

The result of China’s extreme population control campaign and forced abortions is a climate of terror around having children, which AP said could be seen in interview after interview. The news agency collected the testimonies of thirty women in the midst of this brutality.

Chinese health statistics also show a sterilization boom in Xinjiang.

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 fell by 24% last year alone compared to just 4.2% nationwide.

‘Slow, painful, creeping genocide’

Dr Zenz said: “This kind of drop is unprecedented….there’s a ruthlessness to it. This is part of a wider control campaign to subjugate the Uighurs.”

He added that the findings “provide the strongest evidence yet that Beijing’s policies in Xinjiang meet one of the UN’s genocide criteria”

Joanne Smith Finley, an expert on Uighurs at Newcastle University, agrees and said: “It’s genocide, full stop.”

She added: “It’s not immediate, shocking, mass-killing on the spot type genocide, but it’s slow, painful, creeping genocide.

“These are direct means of genetically reducing the Uighur population.”

The report has received a large amount of media attention and has prompted international calls for the United Nations to investigate.

In a statement on Monday, the Interparliamentary Alliance on China, an international cross-party group of politicians including Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith, Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, and US senator Marco Rubio, called on the UN to “establish an international, impartial, independent investigation into the situation in the Xinjiang region”.

“A body of mounting evidence now exists, alleging mass incarceration, indoctrination, extrajudicial detention, invasive surveillance, forced labor, and the destruction of Uyghur cultural sites, including cemeteries, together with other forms of abuse,” the statement said.

“The world cannot remain silent in the face of unfolding atrocities. Our countries are bound by solemn obligations to prevent and punish any effort to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group ‘in whole or in part’.”

According to the BBC, China’s foreign ministry responded to the report on Monday by saying the allegations were “baseless” and showed “ulterior motives”.

Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian accused media outlets of “cooking up false information on Xinjiang-related issues”.

Painful legacy of one and two-child policies

Earlier this year, a Chinese mother who was given a forced abortion after falling pregnant with her third child was granted refugee status in New Zealand.

The family’s story offers a glimpse into how China’s former one-child policy and current two-child policy continue to leave a painful legacy

Although China’s brutal one-child policy was ended in 2015, it has now been replaced by a similarly draconian two-child policy and the devastating consequences of forced abortions, sterilizations, abandoned newborns, and Government abductions are still ongoing.

Chinese-born filmmakers Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang exposed some of the consequences of the policy by retelling some of the stories of those who lived through it. 

In their One Child Nation documentary, which can be viewed on Amazon Prime Video, an 84-year-old midwife revealed she was unsure how many babies she had delivered, but had performed a total of between 50,000 to 60,000 sterilizations and abortions.

“I counted this out of guilt, because I aborted and killed babies,” the midwife, Huaru Yuan, continues. “Many I induced alive and killed. My hands trembled doing it.”

One mother in China told the BBC that she would have liked a second child but was also forced to have an abortion.

She said: “You either go willingly or they come for you.”

Another mother told the BBC, that before the one-child policy was relaxed, she was forced to have an abortion. Speaking of the ordeal she said: “My baby didn’t die immediately… it kept on struggling inside me.

“It broke my heart, the next day it was born still alive… it cried. The doctor said don’t look at it, you’ll have nightmares.”

Mother given ‘forced abortion’ in China granted refuge in New Zealand, after harrowing story

A Chinese mother who was given a forced abortion after falling pregnant with her third child has finally been granted refugee status in New Zealand.

The mother – along with her husband, her 19-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son – appealed to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal after their initial decision to grant refugee protection was refused last year.

The family’s story highlights how China’s former one-child policy and current two-child policy continue to leave a painful legacy, and have been responsible for countless abortions in the world’s most populous country.

The pair married in China in 2008, having met in December 2000. The wife already had a daughter from her first marriage.

In April 2010, the mother of two discovered she was pregnant with another child, a boy.

Under Chinese law, the pair had to pay “a large sum of money” for a birth permit to have the second child. He was born in February 2011 and the family paid further money to register him.

After the son’s birth, Government officials regularly visited the couple’s home from 2010 to 2016, demanding the husband and wife write and sign a pledge agreeing to have no more children.

When they refused, the couple revealed, officials would threaten and insult them.

In addition to intimidating visits to the home, the husband’s employer also exerted pressure on him to not have further children. The state-owned company told the husband he had to either agree to have no more children or resign.

When he refused to do either, the company reduced his income to the minimum wage and subjected him to further harassment, which led him to resign.

In December 2015, the wife discovered she was pregnant with a third child. The news was received with “much joy” by the family.

However, Government officials soon found out and visited the family home to demand that the mother of two have an abortion. 

Court documents note that officials “pushed and prodded the wife and told her she was a pig for wanting so many children,” causing her to faint.

Shortly afterward, she began to experience heavy bleeding and went to the hospital fearing the worst.

Doctors and nurses treated the couple coldly after they learned it was her third pregnancy. They failed to undertake any scans or other tests to check on the health of the baby or to see if there was a heartbeat.

Instead, the wife was taken into theatre and was told she was having an operation to “remove the remainder of the foetus”

Due to the trauma of the event, the wife has trouble remembering what happened next but remembers seeing her baby being sucked out a tube and into a drainage pipe during the operation.

She doesn’t know if her baby was alive at the time or had miscarried.

However, neither she or her husband signed any consent forms for the procedure and believe officials directly or indirectly killed their child.

The Tribunal is satisfied that the events at the hospital amount to serious harm in the form of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and has resulted in psychological damage for the wife.

It found that the family had a well-founded fear of being persecuted if made to return to China and ruled that as refugees they cannot be deported.

The family can remain in New Zealand for the foreseeable future, but have been unsuccessful in getting pregnant again, since they lost their third child.  

Although China’s brutal one-child policy was ended in 2015, it has now been replaced by a similarly draconian two-choice policy and the devastating consequences of forced abortions, sterilizations, abandoned newborns, and Government abductions are still ongoing.

Chinese-born filmmakers Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang exposed some of the consequences of the policy by retelling some of the stories of some of those who lived through it. 

Early on in their One Child Nation documentary, which can be viewed on Amazon Prime Video, an 84-year-old midwife revealed she was unsure how many babies she had delivered, but had performed a total of between 50,000 to 60,000 sterilizations and abortions.

“I counted this out of guilt, because I aborted and killed babies,” the midwife, Huaru Yuan, continues. “Many I induced alive and killed. My hands trembled doing it.”

One mother in China told the BBC that she would have liked a second child but was also forced to have an abortion.

She said: “You either go willingly or they come for you.”

Another mother told the BBC, that before the one-child policy was relaxed, she was forced to have an abortion. Speaking of the ordeal she said: “My baby didn’t die immediately… it kept on struggling inside me.

“It broke my heart, the next day it was born still alive… it cried. The doctor said don’t look at it, you’ll have nightmares.”

(Image credit: Shutterstock: ID #703730317)