China is severely reducing the birth rate of Muslims in Xinjiang, with forced abortions and law enforcement, according to a media report.
BEIJING taz | The accusation is "demographic genocide": A research by the news agency AP shows the draconian measures by the Chinese government to reduce the birth rate of the Muslim minority in Xinjiang. Hundreds of thousands, mainly Uyghur women, are said to have been forced to undergo forced sterilization and abortions.
AP has conducted several dozen interviews, including with Gulnar Omirzakh, who has since fled to Kazakhstan: after the woman gave birth to her third child, the government asked her to use a contraceptive spiral.
Two years later, four military officers in uniform also demanded that the family be fined the equivalent of around 2,500 euros. Otherwise, they would end up in an internment camp.
Statistics show that this is not an isolated case: the birth rate in the Hotan and Kashgar regions, which are mainly populated by Uyghurs, dropped by more than 60 percent between 2015 and 2018.
Abortion increased sevenfold
At the same time, the number of abortions in Xinjiang increased seven-fold to 60,000, while it has dropped significantly in the rest of the country.
The People's Republic is a culturally diverse country that has recognized a total of 55 ethnic minorities by the state since the 1982 census. Even during the Cultural Revolution (1966-77) the government was very suspicious of them, many members of the ethnic groups were subjected to arbitrary prosecution and a systematic assimilation policy.
However, the official share of minorities in the total population has increased continuously. In 1982 they were only 6.7 percent, in 1990 the figure was 8.0 percent.
Researchers at the National University of Singapore found in 2019 that demographic change cannot be explained by a higher birth rate alone, but by a political rethink. To maintain national security, ethnic minorities have been more integrated since the 1980s: religious sites such as mosques have been rebuilt, certain areas have been declared autonomous regions and university quotas have been introduced.
One-child policy made exceptions for minorities
Above all, however, the “one-child policy” ensured transformation: This allowed the minorities in 26 provinces beyond the urbanized east coast regions to father an additional child. As a result, millions of Chinese who had previously identified as Han Chinese are now ethnic minorities.
"On the one hand, it could be that people have strategically used their identification in order to circumvent the one-child policy," says study author Francis-Tan: "On the other hand, it could also be that people have finally acknowledged their true identity , because the political and social climate became more benevolent towards minorities ”.
In fact, many of the minorities, including Muslims, are well integrated in the Han Chinese-dominated majority society. Above all, however, there have always been tensions between the Muslim Uighurs and the Communist Party:
Parts of the Uyghur population who dream of their own state called East Turkestan or at least want to see the promised autonomy taken seriously see the communist government as an imperialist occupier who exploits the resource-rich region in western China and subjugates the population.
Systematic internment campaign
A radical separatist movement has also been responsible for some of the most brutal terrorist attacks in China in the past two decades. Beijing thereupon, under the guise of fighting terrorism, with a systematic internment campaign reacts, which is unparalleled in its extent.
The Chinese government had around one million Uighurs, according to human rights organizations locked up in camps. Former inmates who now live outside the country report torture and political indoctrination.
Beijing, on the other hand, calls the camps "training centers" for de-radicalization and considers it a success across the board: in the past three years, there have been no terrorist attacks by Uyghurs, according to a documentary recently broadcast by the state propaganda broadcaster CGTN.
Internal data leaks previously suggested that the camps are not just about fighting terrorism. The majority of internees are in custody for the sole reason that they have fathered too many children. The women interviewed by AP reported that they received regular injections in the guards' camps, apparently to prevent pregnancy.