Uyghur Doctor Accuses Chinese Hospitals of Forced Abortions in Xinjiang

View of the Uyghur village of Tuyog, with a mosque and mountains on the background, Xinjiang region, China.
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A Uyghur obstetrician named Hasiyet Abdulla told Radio Free Asia (RFA) on Monday that hospitals in China’s Xinjiang province were “forced to abort and kill babies born in excess of family planning limits or who were in utero less than three years after the mother’s previous birth.”

RFA quoted Abdulla, a 15-year veteran of Xinjiang’s hospitals who now lives in Turkey, explaining that hospital maternity wards in the home of the Uyghur Muslims followed strict instructions to limit rural families to three children at most, and urban families to just two:

“The regulations were so strict: there had to be three or four years between children. There were babies born at nine months who we killed after inducing labor. They did that in the maternity wards, because those were the orders.”

Abdulla told RFA that hospital family-planning units carried out the operations, including for women who were “eight and nine months pregnant,” adding that in some cases, medical staff would “even kill the babies after they’d been born.”

For babies who had been born at the hospital outside of family-planning limits, she said, “they would kill them and dispose of the body.”

“They wouldn’t give the baby to the parents — they kill the babies when they’re born,” she said.

“It’s an order that’s been given from above, it’s an order that’s been printed and distributed in official documents. Hospitals get fined if they don’t comply, so of course they carry this out.”

Abdulla’s claims were confirmed by a former family-planning staffer named Shahide Yarmuhemmet, who now lives in the Netherlands, who said forced abortions were performed by family planning units all the way down to the village level. Loyal “cadres” in each village made a point of keeping tabs on pregnant women and reported unauthorized pregnancies to higher-level officials, who sometimes had abortion units on standby in individual housing developments. 

RFA talked to a Uyghur woman who said she was threatened into aborting her child by such a local goon squad, and was even obliged to pay for the procedure out of her own pocket. Unsurprisingly, these forced abortions and sterilizations do not involve top-quality medical care; many Uyghur women report unpleasant side effects from cheap medications and lingering health issues from crude surgeries, including vaginal bleeding from poorly implanted birth control devices.

Another veteran of the Xinjiang medical system, former Women and Children’s Hospital family planning chief Chen Yanchun, said his hospital performed 30 to 60 forced abortions per day.

RFA noted the accounts of Abdulla, Yarmuhemmet, and Chen are consistent with the work of Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation researcher Adrian Zenz, who filed a report in June detailing a sharp increase in forced sterilizations for Uyghurs that arguably qualifies as ethnic cleansing, or outright genocide, under United Nations protocols. Last year he found abundant evidence that the infamous concentration camps of Xinjiang are not “voluntary vocational training centers,” as the Chinese Communist regime claims.

“I was able to uncover dedicated policies by Beijing in the region to systematically suppress birthrates and depress population growth. I uncovered evidence that the Uyghurs are subject to internment in camps if they violate birth control policies, have too many children. I also uncovered that there’s tools to implement intrauterine contraceptive devices and other intrusive surgical birth prevention mechanisms in at least 80% of the targeted women,” Zenz told NPR in June.

Zenz noted that while the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) dispatched officials to vehemently deny his findings, his research was conducted largely with local and national government documents. One of his major sources was the Xinjiang National Health Commission, whose website mysteriously went offline after his report on forced sterilization was filed at the end of June.

In a chilling passage from his NPR interview, Zenz confessed that he went into his latest round of research believing China was committing cultural genocide against the Uyghurs — depressing their population, tossing them into re-education camps, and bringing in large numbers of Han Chinese to settle in Xinjiang — but now he believes the evidence supports a charge of literal genocide under U.N. conventions.

“When people in other parts of the world carry out these kinds of horrible abuses, they’re held accountable before the law,” Sophie Richardson of Human Rights Watch told RFA. “Where is the justice for all the Uyghurs who are suffering under these human-rights violations?”

Ethnic Kazakh women in Xinjiang, which borders on Kazakhstan, have been subjected to similar abuses. NPR told the story of one such woman in November 2018, when the U.S. Senate was holding hearings on human rights in China. She was actually on the verge of escaping to Kazakhstan with her two children when Chinese officials coerced her back to Xinjiang by threatening her brother. She was pregnant with a third child at the time, but the Chinese forced her to have an abortion, indoctrinated her in Chinese politics, and sent a crew of Han Chinese men to live at her home to keep an eye on her.

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