A man protesting China and its Uighur policies in Brussels, Belgium, on February 2, 2020. 

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A man protesting China and its Uighur policies in Brussels, Belgium, on February 2, 2020.

  • Hospitals in Xinjiang, China aborted third-trimester Uighur pregnancies and even killed newborn Uighur children, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported.

  • Since 2016, China has operated a hardline, so-called counterterrorism campaign against its Uighur Muslim minority. At last 1 million Uighurs have been detained in camps and brainwashed.

  • Uighurs are prevented by law from having more than two children if they live in cities, and three if they live in the countryside.

  • Hasiyet Abdulla, a Uighur doctor with 15 years’ experience in Xinjiang, told RFA that if women breach that limit their babies will be killed, either in utero or post-birth.

  • It is the latest of several reports detaining how China is cutting the Uighur birth rate, including forced sterilization or mandatory contraception.

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Hospitals in Xinjiang aborted late-stage pregnancies and killed newborns as part of China’s mission to erase Uighur culture, a former doctor from the region has told Radio Free Asia.

Since 2016, China has interned at least 1 million Uighurs in hundreds of prison camps, which it euphemistically calls “reeducation centers.” In those camps, Uighurs are forced to abandon their heritage and religion.

A large part of this crackdown involves limiting the reproductive rights of Uighurs and slashing the birth rate.

In 2017, China passed a law limiting Uighurs, and other ethnic minorities, to three children in rural areas and two in urban areas.

Under China’s one-child policy, which was abandoned in 2016, Han Chinese citizens — people of the majority ethnic majority group — were encouraged and sometimes forced to take contraception and undergo abortions to keep their birth rate low. But minorities, such as the Uighurs, were always allowed two to three children, according to the Associated Press (AP).

Hasiyet Abdulla, a Uighur doctor who spent 15 years working in hospitals in Xinjiang, and who now lives in Turkey, told RFA that when a child was expected to be born into a family who were already on the limit, the pregnancy would be terminated.

Terminations happened when woman were as much as “eight and nine months pregnant,” she said. Sometimes medical staff would “even kill the babies after they’d been born,” Abdulla added.

Map showing so-called East Turkistan National Awakening Movement/Google Earth

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Map showing so-called “re-education camps” for Uighurs in Xinjiang, western China.

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“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,” she told RFA.

The news follows a series of reports that demonstrate how China is forcibly sterilizing many Uighur women and fitting others with intrauterine devices to prevent pregnancy.

And the effort to curtail the numbers of Uighurs born each year appears to be working. The birth rate in Xinjiang fell by nearly 24% in 2019, according to the AP.

Much of what goes on in the camps is still a secret, but former inmates have said they were subjected to medical experiments, forced to redecorate their homes to make them look traditionally Chinese, and to sing propaganda songs to get food

China has also been accused of harvesting the organs of some Uighurs. Beijing has denied the claim.

Chinese President Xi Jinping in March 2020. 

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Chinese President Xi Jinping in March 2020.

Earlier this month, The Globe and Mail published a rare video taken inside a camp, filmed by a Uighur model who disappeared in January 2020. The video showed the model, Merdan Ghappar, handcuffed to a bed as propaganda blared outside his window. The BBC also reported Ghappar’s testimony.

China has since claimed that officials handcuffed Ghappar to his bed because he had “committed acts of self-harm and excessive acts against the police,” according to the BBC.

The detention camps have drawn condemnation on the world stage but, just as with criticism of its crackdown on Hong Kong, China is showing little interest in changing its ways.

The US said in July 2020 that it was adding 11 Chinese companies to an export blacklist because they are accused of using forced labor from Uighur prisoners in Xinjiang.

A report from 180 human-rights groups published last month reported that around one in five cotton garments sold around the world contain cotton or yarn from the region.

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