China responds to allegations of forced sterilisation of Uighur Muslim women

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Uighur Woman in Xinjiang, Western China (AP)

Xinjiang officials confirm birth rates dropped by nearly a third from 2017 to 2018, but deny allegations of abuse against its Uighur population.

In a letter sent to CNN on September 1st, China denied all allegations of abuse against the Uighur population in Xinjiang, including forced sterilisation and the use of IUD’s to suppress birth rate, justifying the significant drop in birth rate by claiming that all measures were voluntary.

This was in response to a report published by CNN a month prior, detailing the experiences of Uighur women in Xinjiang as they were forced to undergo “birth control procedures.” This report also cited figures published by Xinjiang scholar Adrian Zenz which showed a local rise in sterilisations and the use of IUD’s for birth control in Xinjiang despite a national drop in both.

According to the Chinese government, the drop in birth rate was a result of family planning policy.

Labour camp in Xinjiang (GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images)

The Uighur ethnic minority in Xinjiang have faced oppression for years and been detained in labour camps. Last week, Beijing published a white paper stating that a total of almost eight million people were “trained” in such camps between 2014 and 2019.

The Chinese government claim the purpose of the camps is to provide “vocational education and training”, but according to the Associated Press (AP), these centres serve as a threat or punishment, often for having too many children.

Multiple Uighur women who spent time in detention centres have testified to forcibly being given medication which stopped them from menstruating. CNN also spoke to a doctor from Xinjiang who, since 2013, has examined around 300 exiled Uighur women. She found that almost all had been given birth control and that 80 women had been permanently sterilised, many of whom were unaware that the procedure had taken place.

According to Zenz, these findings could serve as proof of “genocide” in Xinjiang as “it fulfils one of the five criteria of the United Nations convention for the prevention of genocide, which is the suppression of births.”

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Journalism and Film & Media student at University of Stirling.

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