Chinese government in Xinjiang confirms huge drop in birth rate but denies forced sterilization of women

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The Xinjiang government sent the six-page fax to CNN in response to questions from an article published in July that documented a campaign of abuse and control by Beijing targeting women from the Uyghur minority, a larger Muslim ethnic group. of 10 million people. The fax did not arrive until September 1, a month after the story was published.

More CNN reports have revealed that some Uyghur women have been forced to use contraception and undergo sterilization as part of a deliberate attempt to lower birth rates among minorities in Xinjiang.

The article was based on a report by Adrian Zenz, a senior researcher at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation known for his research on Xinjiang, who cited official Chinese documents showing an increase in the number of sterilizations performed in the region – less from 50 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2016 to nearly 250 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2018.

Zenz said these actions fell under the United Nations definition of “genocide”, specifically “the imposition of measures to prevent births within the group.”

In its response, the Xinjiang government firmly denied the genocide allegations, arguing instead that the Uyghur population has “continuously increased” over the past decade and that Zenz’s report was not “in line with the situation. real in Xinjiang ”.

According to the government, Xinjiang’s population grew by more than 3 million people, or nearly 14 percent, between 2010 and 2018, with the Uyghur population growing faster than the region’s average rate.

“The rights and interests of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities have been fully protected,” the response said. “The so-called ‘genocide’ is pure nonsense. “

The birth rate plunges

But the government has not challenged the increase in sterilizations or the gap in the ratio of new intrauterine devices (IUDs) between Xinjiang and the rest of mainland China. While IUD implants have plunged across China, dropping to just 21 per 100,000 people in 2018, they are becoming more and more common in Xinjiang.

According to local government statistics, there were nearly 1,000 new IUD implants per 100,000 people in Xinjiang in 2018, or 80% of China’s total for that year.

The Xinjiang government said in its response that the region’s birth rate fell from 15.88 per 1,000 people in 2017 to 10.69 per 1,000 people in 2018. The fax said the drop was due to “The full implementation of the family planning policy. ”

Until 2015, the Chinese government implemented a nationwide “one-child” family planning policy, which did not allow more than one baby to most urban couples. Ethnic minorities, such as Uyghurs, were generally allowed to have up to three, but Xinjiang expert Zenz said families in these groups often had many more children.

When China officially launched the two-child policy in January 2016, Uyghur citizens living in cities were also limited to two children for the first time – their rural counterparts could still have up to three.

The Xinjiang government attributed the sudden drop in population to the fact that Beijing’s family planning policies were finally properly implemented in the region after 2017.

“In 2018, the number of newborns decreased by around 120,000 compared to 2017, including around 80,000 due to better implementation of the family planning policy in accordance with the law, according to estimates by the department of health and statistics, ”the response told CNN. . The government insisted that those who complied with family planning policies did so voluntarily.

The government attributed the remaining 40,000 fewer babies to increased education and economic development, resulting in a decrease in the number of children in the region. The Xinjiang government did not include 2019 birth numbers for the region.

“As a part of China, Xinjiang implements family planning policies in accordance with national laws and regulations, and has never formulated and implemented family planning policies for a single ethnic minority,” said the answer.

But Zenz stressed that changes in the natural birth rate should take place over several years, if not a decade, and not in the space of 12 to 36 months.

Referring to government claims that adherence to family planning policies was voluntary, Zenz questioned how likely it was that “17 times as many women spontaneously wanted to be sterilized.”

“Han Chinese scholars in Xinjiang have themselves written that Uyghurs are resistant to any type of contraception (and in particular sterilization),” he said in a statement to CNN.

In their fax, the Xinjiang government also personally attacked Zenz, claiming that he was “deliberately making lies” and accusing him of being a religious fanatic who believed he was “led by God” to oppose China.

Zenz rejected the Chinese government’s claims, saying they “resorted to personal attacks” because they could not refute his research. “Beijing’s slander against Uyghur witnesses is far more blatant than these personal attacks on me,” he said in a statement.

Attacks on Women

The Xinjiang government also focused on the claims of two Uyghur women cited in the CNN article – Zumrat Dawut and Gulbakhar Jalilova.

Dawut said she was coerced into sterilization by the Xinjiang local government when she went to a government office to pay a fine for having one extra child. Dawut also said that she had been in a Xinjiang detention center for about three months from March 2018.

In its response, the government stated that Dawut had never been inside a voluntary “education and training center”, a name used by the Chinese government to refer to the so-called detention centers, and that she had signed a form agreeing to the procedure known as tubal ligation. .

In the CNN article, Jalilova, who is a citizen of Kazakhstan and of Uyghur descent, said she was held in a detention center for 15 months after being arrested suddenly and without explanation while traveling from business in Xinjiang in May 2017.

Jalilova claimed to have suffered humiliation and torture inside the camps and said that she was raped by one of the guards.

Uyghur exile Gulbakhar Jalilova who says she suffered sexual abuse while being held in detention centers in Xinjiang.

The Xinjiang government confirmed Jalilova’s claims that she had been detained for 15 months from May 2017, alleging that she was arrested “because she was suspected of aiding in terrorist activities.” In August 2018, she was released on bail, after which she returned to Kazakhstan.

In their statement, the government denied that Jalilova had been raped or tortured, saying all her “rights were fully guaranteed” and that the staff in her cell could prove it.

When asked to respond to the Chinese government’s statement, Jalilova upheld her claims and asked the Xinjiang authorities to provide their evidence. “Why don’t they show a video? Why don’t they show a photo while I was in prison showing that I was well fed and not beaten. The cameras were working 24 hours a day, ”she said.

“I am a citizen of Kazakhstan, what right did they have to detain me for a year and a half? “

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