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Forced birth control on Uighurs in China widespread, systematic: AP investigation

Forced birth control on Uighurs in China widespread, systematic: AP investigation

China’s government has imposed forced birth control on its predominantly Muslim Uighur ethnic group to a far greater degree than previously known, according to an Associated Press investigation, with some experts saying the policy constitutes “demographic genocide.”

The news service analyzed government records and statistics and interviewed more than 30 former detainees, their family members and a former instructor at one of the country’s detention camps in the western region of Xinjiang.

State officials frequently monitor members of minority ethnic groups to determine whether they are pregnant, and in hundreds of thousands of cases, have mandated sterilization, intrauterine devices (IUDs) — use of which is down overall but up sharply in Xinjiang — and mandatory abortions in some cases, according to the AP.

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Authorities frequently send minorities to detention camps as a penalty for having three or more children, the AP found.

Gulnar Omirzakh, an ethnically Kazakh Chinese woman, told the news service the government ordered her to have an IUD inserted after she had her third child in 2016, and that two years later, uniformed officials visited her and ordered her to pay the equivalent of $2,685 for having more than two children while threatening to send her to join her husband in a detention camp.

“God bequeaths children on you. To prevent people from having children is wrong,” Omirzakh told the AP. “They want to destroy us as a people.”

Between 2015 and 2018, the most recent year covered by official government statistics, birth rates in the regions of Hotan and Kashgar, which have a predominantly Uighur population, have fallen by more than 60 percent, and birth rates in Xinjiang fell 24 percent last year even as the country as a whole saw a drop of only 4.2 percent.

“This kind of drop is unprecedented. ... There’s a ruthlessness to it,” China scholar Adrian Zenz, who conducted research on the slowdown in birth rates in the region, told the AP.

Chinese officials denied any different treatment of ethnic or religious minorities, calling the investigation “fabricated” and “fake news.”

“Everyone, regardless of whether they’re an ethnic minority or Han Chinese, must follow and act in accordance with the law,” ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Monday, according to the AP.