China Celebrates Uyghur Genocide as Victory for Feminism

This photo taken on May 31, 2019 shows a Uighur woman (C) going through an entrance to a bazaar in Hotan, in China's northwest Xinjiang region. - A recurrence of the Urumqi riots which left nearly 200 people dead a decade ago is hard to imagine in today's Xinjiang, a …
GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty

China’s state-run China Daily ran an astonishing piece on Thursday celebrating the forced sterilization of women from the Muslim Uyghur minority of Xinjiang province as a triumph of feminism because the women have more “autonomy” now that they do not have to spend all their time raising children.

The Chinese Embassy to the United States promoted the China Daily article with an even more outrageously-worded tweet:

Study shows that in the process of eradicating extremism, the minds of Uygur women in Xinjiang were emancipated and gender equality and reproductive health were promoted, making them no longer baby-making machines. They are more confident and independent.

The “report” in question came from the Xinjiang Development Research Center. China Daily scrambled to claim the dramatic reduction in birthrates came not from “forced sterilization” as foreign researchers asserted, but rather from “the eradication of religious extremism,” which was compelling Uyghurs to “resist family planning.”

In other words, Islam encourages people to have big families, and now that the Uyghurs have been reprogrammed to embrace Communism as their true faith, their women have “more autonomy when deciding whether to have children.”

China Daily celebrated the victory of strict family planning policies as a triumph for feminism:

For a period of time, the penetration of religious extremism made implementing family planning policy in southern Xinjiang, including Kashgar and Hotan prefectures, particularly difficult, the research center’s report said. That had led to rapid population growth in those areas as some extremists incited locals to resist family planning policy, resulting in the prevalence of early marriage and bigamy, and frequent unplanned births.

In the process of eradicating extremism, the minds of Uygur women were emancipated and gender equality and reproductive health were promoted, making them no long baby-making machines, it said. Women have since been striving to become healthy, confident and independent.

[…]

The research center’s report said safe, effective and appropriate contraceptive measures are now available to couples of childbearing age in Xinjiang, and their personal decisions on whether to use those measures — which include tubal ligation and the insertion of intrauterine devices — are fully respected. As a result, the birthrate in Xinjiang decreased from 1.6 percent in 2017 to 1 percent in 2018 and the natural population growth rate fell from 1.1 percent to 0.6 percent.

“The report said an increasing number of people in southern Xinjiang were deciding to marry and have children later in life, seeing the benefits of fewer but better births, and the change was due more to personal choice than government policy,” China Daily concluded.

Contrary to Chinese Communist Party (CCP) propaganda, the forced sterilization of Uyghur women was documented by German researcher Adrian Zenz in June, prompting an international outcry. 

Uyghur women interviewed by Zenz said they were threatened with imprisonment in the notorious concentration camps of Xinjiang if they refused to abort their children. Zenz found documentation of women forced to accept intrauterine birth control devices (IUDs) and even surgical sterilization. His data showed an 84-percent reduction in growth rates in Xinjiang, a population crash without precedent in human history. He called it a “ruthless” policy that was “part of a wider control campaign to subjugate the Uyghurs.”

A Uyghur teacher named Qelbinur Sidik described her forced sterilization to the UK Guardian in September. She was 47 years old at the time and said Uyghur women as old as 59 were forced to accept IUDs under threat of surgical mutilation. 

The threat was made explicitly by Chinese officials in Uyghur-language text messages, which the Guardian quoted verbatim:

If anything happens, who will take responsibility for you? Do not gamble with your life, don’t even try. These things are not just about you. You have to think about your family members and your relatives around you. If you fight with us at your door and refuse to collaborate with us, you will go to the police station and sit on the metal chair!

Sidik said the clinic that forcibly inserted her IUD was filled with crowds of Uyghur women awaiting sterilization, without a single Han Chinese patient in sight. She paid to have her IUD removed illegally after it caused her pain and heavy bleeding, but Chinese authorities discovered it was missing, forced her to submit to another IUD, and then forced her to undergo surgery after she complained about more complications from the IUD.

“Her story, first told to the Dutch Uyghur Human Rights Foundation, is difficult to verify. It is hard to take photos inside detention facilities and there is little documentation. But details match accounts by other camp detainees and research into coercive birth control practices,” the Guardian duly noted.

The Associated Press (AP) also investigated the ethnic cleansing of Uyghurs in June 2020, concluding “the Chinese government is taking draconian measures to slash birth rates among Uighurs and other minorities as part of a sweeping campaign to curb its Muslim population, even as it encourages some of the country’s Han majority to have more children.”

The AP investigation found forced birth control and sterilization against Uyghurs and other minorities was “more widespread and systematic than previously known.” 

Based on reviews of Chinese bureaucratic data and interviews with dozens of concentration camp inmates and guards, the AP found the exact same practices as Adrian Zenz and the UK Guardian: 

The state regularly subjects minority women to pregnancy checks, and forces intrauterine devices, sterilization and even abortion on hundreds of thousands, the interviews and data show. Even while the use of IUDs and sterilization has fallen nationwide, it is rising sharply in Xinjiang.

The population control measures are backed by mass detention both as a threat and as a punishment for failure to comply. Having too many children is a major reason people are sent to detention camps, the AP found, with the parents of three or more ripped away from their families unless they can pay huge fines. Police raid homes, terrifying parents as they search for hidden children.

One of the women interviewed by the AP, a Chinese-born Kazakh named Gulnar Omirzakh, said she was forced to accept an IUD after having a third child – and was later subjected to a huge fine anyway despite her extreme poverty and the fact that having a third child was not technically illegal. She said Chinese officials in military uniforms threatened to send her to the concentration camps, where her husband was already a prisoner, if she did not pay up.

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

“The result of the birth control campaign is a climate of terror around having children, as seen in interview after interview,” the AP reported, noting that Han Chinese women are “largely spared the abortions, sterilizations, IUD insertions and detentions for having too many children that are forced on Xinjiang’s other ethnicities.”

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