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

  • 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.


WHO acknowledges ‘evidence emerging’ of airborne spread of COVID-19

Updated 07 July 2020

WHO acknowledges ‘evidence emerging’ of airborne spread of COVID-19

  • WHO previously said the virus spreads through droplets expelled from the nose and mouth that quickly sink to the ground
  • New evidence shows floating virus particles can infect people who breathe them in

GENEVA: The World Health Organization on Tuesday acknowledged “evidence emerging” of the airborne spread of the novel coronavirus, after a group of scientists urged the global body to update its guidance on how the respiratory disease passes between people.
“We have been talking about the possibility of airborne transmission and aerosol transmission as one of the modes of transmission of COVID-19,” Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead on the COVID-19 pandemic at the WHO, told a news briefing.
The WHO has previously said the virus that causes the COVID-19 respiratory disease spreads primarily through small droplets expelled from the nose and mouth of an infected person that quickly sink to the ground.
But in an open letter to the Geneva-based agency, published on Monday in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal, 239 scientists in 32 countries outlined evidence that they say shows floating virus particles can infect people who breathe them in.
Because those smaller exhaled particles can linger in the air, the scientists are urging WHO to update its guidance.
Speaking at Tuesday’s briefing in Geneva, Benedetta Allegranzi, the WHO’s technical lead for infection prevention and control, said there was evidence emerging of airborne transmission of the coronavirus, but that it was not definitive.
.”..The possibility of airborne transmission in public settings — especially in very specific conditions, crowded, closed, poorly ventilated settings that have been described, cannot be ruled out,” she said.
“However, the evidence needs to be gathered and interpreted, and we continue to support this.”
Any change in the WHO’s assessment of risk of transmission could affect its current advice on keeping 1-meter (3.3 feet) of physical distancing. Governments, which rely on the agency for guidance policy, may also have to adjust public health measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.
Van Kerkhove said the WHO would publish a scientific brief summarising the state of knowledge on modes of transmission of the virus in the coming days.
“A comprehensive package of interventions is required to be able to stop transmission,” she said.
“This includes not only physical distancing, it includes the use of masks where appropriate in certain settings, specifically where you can’t do physical distancing and especially for health care workers.”