China forcibly sterilizes Uighurs to control population: report

China forcibly sterilizes Uighurs to control population: report
This file photo taken on May 31, 2019 shows a Uighur woman holding a baby in a Uighur restaurant in Hotan in China's northwest Xinjiang region. (AFP)
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Updated 29 June 2020

China forcibly sterilizes Uighurs to control population: report

China forcibly sterilizes Uighurs to control population: report
  • The report has prompted an international group of lawmakers to call for a UN investigation into China’s policies in the region

BEIJING: Chinese authorities are carrying out forced sterilizations of women in an apparent campaign to curb the growth of ethnic minority populations in the western Xinjiang region, according to research published Monday.
The report, based on a combination of official regional data, policy documents and interviews with ethnic minority women, has prompted an international group of lawmakers to call for a United Nations investigation into China’s policies in the region.
The move is likely to enrage Beijing, which has denied trampling on the rights of ethnic groups in Xinjiang, and which on Monday called the allegations “baseless.”
The country is accused of locking more than one million Uighurs and other mostly Muslim minorities in re-education camps. Beijing describes the facilities as job training centers aimed at steering people away from terrorism following a spate of violence blamed on separatists.
Now a report by Adrian Zenz, a German researcher who has exposed China’s policies in Xinjiang, says Uighur women other ethnic minorities are being threatened with internment in the camps for refusing to abort pregnancies that exceed birth quotas.
Zenz’s data-driven work — which uses public documents found by scouring China’s Internet — on the camps has previously been cited by experts on a UN panel investigating the facilities.
Women who had fewer than the legally permitted limit of two children were involuntarily fitted with IUDs, says the report.
It also reports that some of the women said they were being coerced into receiving sterilization surgeries.
Former camp detainees said they were given injections that stopped their periods, or caused unusual bleeding consistent with the effects of birth control drugs.
Government documents studied by Zenz also showed that women in some rural minority communities in the region received frequent mandatory gynaecological exams and bi-monthly pregnancy tests from local health officials.
Zenz found that population growth in Xinjiang counties predominantly home to ethnic minorities fell below the average growth in primarily Han majority counties between 2017 and 2018, a year after the officially recorded rate of sterilizations in the region sharply overtook the national rate in 2016.
Uighur activists say China is using the internment camps to conduct a massive brainwashing campaign aimed at eradicating their distinct culture and Islamic identity.
China appears to be using coercive birth control in Xinjiang as part of a “wider game plan of ethno-racial domination,” Zenz wrote in the report.
“These findings raise serious concerns as to whether Beijing’s policies in Xinjiang represent, in fundamental respects, what might be characterized as a demographic campaign of genocide” under UN definitions, Zenz said in the report.
The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), a group of North American, European and Australian members of parliament from a range of political parties, said in a statement Monday it would push for a legal investigation on “whether or not crimes against humanity or genocide have taken place” in Xinjiang.
IPAC was formed in June with a stated mission of standing up against “challenges posed by the present conduct and future ambitions of the People’s Republic of China.”
Britain said it was aware of reports which “add to our concern about the human rights sitution in Xinjiang.”
“Of course we will be considering this report very carefully,” junior foreign office minister Nigel Adams told parliament.
China’s foreign ministry said the allegations were “baseless” and showed “ulterior motives.”
Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian blasted media outlets for “cooking up false information on Xinjiang-related issues,” saying at a regular press briefing that Xinjiang is “harmonious and stable.”
The rights group World Uyghur Congress said the report showed a “genocidal element of the CCP’s (Chinese Communist Party) policies” and called in a statement for international action to confront China.


Indonesian celebrity’s party blunder sparks criticism over vaccine campaign

Indonesian celebrity’s party blunder sparks criticism over vaccine campaign
Updated 40 min 47 sec ago

Indonesian celebrity’s party blunder sparks criticism over vaccine campaign

Indonesian celebrity’s party blunder sparks criticism over vaccine campaign
  • Indonesia planning to inoculate 181 million in nationwide vaccination drive

JAKARTA: The Indonesian government’s strategy to promote coronavirus vaccination is under fire after an influencer who received a vaccine jab last week was spotted violating health guidelines just a few
hours later.

Indonesia started the nationwide vaccination drive on Wednesday to inoculate 181 million of its 276 million people, after the national drug regulator authorized the emergency use of the Chinese-made CoronaVac vaccine developed by Sinovac Biotech and the country’s highest authority on Islamic affairs approved it as halal, or permissible under Islamic law.

President Joko Widodo, who was the first Indonesian to receive the vaccine, described the campaign as a “game changer,” amid hopes that achieving herd immunity would help to revive the economy, which has been reeling from the pandemic. 

Alongside officials and religious leaders, 33-year-old soap opera star Raffi Ahmad also received the jab. Government strategists hoped he would promote vaccine acceptance with his huge social media presence of some 50 million followers on Instagram and 19 million on YouTube.

However, soon after receiving his shot Ahmad was photographed at a party, without a face mask and violating social distancing measures imposed by the government to contain the virus spread. The photos quickly made the rounds on social media, provoking a backlash to the government’s campaign and resulting in a lawsuit against the celebrity.

“He was really careless. He is tasked with promoting the vaccination drive, but he failed to behave accordingly,” said David Tobing, an independent lawyer who has filed the case against Ahmad for “violating the regulations to control the pandemic and for public indecency.”

“I demand in my lawsuit that the court order Ahmad to stay at home for 30 days after he gets his second vaccine jab and to issue a public apology in national print and broadcast media,” Tobing told Arab News on Saturday. “I filed the lawsuit after I received a lot of feedback from the public, including COVID-19 survivors and those who have lost loved ones because of the coronavirus.”

Ahmad has apologized on social media, saying that he did not want to disappoint the president and the public after getting the privilege of being vaccinated, but justified going to the party as it was held at a private home and said that he taken the mask off only to eat. The first hearing against Ahmad is scheduled to be held at a district court in Depok near Jakarta on Jan. 27, Tobing said. He added that he is aware that Ahmad had apologized but the actor “did not seem to have any regret.”

In response to a question by Arab News at a press briefing after the incident, national COVID-19 task force spokesman Wiku Adisasmito said that officials had reprimanded Ahmad over the blunder. He justified the involvement of celebrities in the vaccination campaign.

“When we have a major program like vaccination, we hope that a big influencer such as Raffi Ahmad can play a pivotal role to make sure young people will support the vaccination,” Adisasmito said.

Experts have criticized the government’s strategy, saying that Ahmad receiving the vaccine is unlikely to appease public concerns over the vaccine’s efficacy and possible side effects.

“Health professionals, religious figures and government officials have more credibility and integrity to promote this vaccination drive than influencers,” said Sulfikar Amir, a sociologist from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

Amir, who initiated a petition in early December calling on the government to give vaccinations to all citizens when Jakarta was still planning to inoculate only selected groups, said that by appointing the celebrity influencer to promote immunization the government showed that it “has no ability to influence the public to take part in the vaccination drive.”

“This is not the same as promoting consumer goods that the influencers normally do,” he said. “It is about public health issues.”