Drone video footage shows blindfolded and shackled Uyghur men in China’s far west in 2019. (Image: YouTube)
Two wide-ranging investigations into efforts by the ruling Chinese Communist Party to clamp down on the Uyghur Muslim minority in Xinjiang province have uncovered horrific birth control practices including sterilization, forced abortions and the forced insertion of contraceptive devices into women.
The revelations are the latest to come from the party’s campaign against the Uyghurs and other Central Asian Muslim minorities such as the Kazakhs that has seen it build scores of concentration camps that have incarcerated more than one million people at a time.
The aim of the camps, experts agree, is to crush the spirit and culture of the Uyghurs, who are often shipped out to other regions of China as heavily guarded labor for factories.
The central government has stepped up its multi-decade campaign to swamp the province once heavily dominated by Uyghurs, parts of which were once an independent nation called East Turkestan, with ethnic Han people who at least nominally make up more than 90 percent of China’s population.
The Uyghur population of about 11 million is tiny in comparison to China’s 1.4 billion population and it now appears clear that Beijing is keen to whittle this away further with its population control measures.
“This policy, directed by the authorities of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP), is intended to reduce the Uyghur population in Xinjiang relative to the numbers of ethnic Han Chinese — and thereby to promote more rapid Uyghur assimilation into the ‘Chinese Nation-Race’ (Zhonghua Minzu), a priority goal of national-level ethnic policy under CCP general secretary Xi Jinping,” Adrian Zenz, senior fellow in China Studies at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, Washington, D.C., said in a report for the Jamestown Foundation.
Natural population growth in Xinjiang has declined dramatically; growth rates fell by 84 percent in the two largest Uyghur prefectures between 2015 and 2018, and declined further in 2019. For 2020, one Uyghur region set an unprecedented near-zero population growth target: a mere 1.05 per million, compared to an already low 11.45 per million in 2018. This was intended to be achieved through “family planning work,” Zenz’s study claimed.
A separate investigation by journalists from the Associated Press reported that former detainees said “they were force-fed birth control pills or injected with fluids, often with no explanation. Many felt dizzy, tired or ill, and women stopped getting their periods. After being released and leaving China, some went to get medical check-ups and found they were sterile.”
The report further noted that while it was unclear what former detainees were injected with, Xinjiang hospital slides obtained by reporters show that pregnancy prevention injections, sometimes with the hormonal medication Depo-Provera, are a common family planning measure used in Xinjiang.
The CCP has been deploying similar birth control methods for decades to police its restrictive “one child policy,” introduced by Deng Xiaoping, that Beijing began winding back about a decade ago and ended in 2015 as it became clear that China was not replacing its population through natural growth. Ironically, many ethnic minorities including Uyghurs were exempt from the policy and able to have larger families.
International opprobrium regarding the CCP’s actions in Xinjiang is finally beginning to take hold as many Western countries, frustrated by China’s delay in advising the world about the human transmission of the coronavirus, have begun publicly speaking out about the hitherto taboo topic of the 21st century’s first mass concentration camps.
Beijing claims the camps are necessary to prevent religious extremism and terrorism and are for re-education, but leaked documents have revealed that people are sent to these camps for wearing a veil or growing a beard. They have also revealed systematic torture and programs of deculturalization.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said continuous repression of minorities in Xinjiang reflects that the CCP has no respect for human life.
"The United States condemns the use of forced population controls against Uyghur and other minority women and calls on the CCP to cease its campaign of repression. History will judge how we act today," Pompeo tweeted on June 29.
"German researcher Adrian Zenz's shocking revelations are sadly consistent with decades of CCP practices that demonstrate an utter disregard for the sanctity of human life and basic human dignity. We call on the CCP to immediately end these horrific practices and ask all nations to join the United States in demanding an end to these dehumanising abuses."