More Uyghur Exiles Describe Torture, Forced Late-Term Abortions: ‘They Put Me and Eight Other Pregnant Women in Cars’

By Mary Margaret Olohan Published on June 3, 2021

More Uyghur Muslims exiled from their home country of China said that they were tortured and forced to under go late-term abortions, the Associated Press reported Thursday.

The publication spoke with three Uyghurs who were forced to flee from China’s Xinjiang region, including one woman who said that Chinese authorities forced her to abort her unborn baby 6.5 months into her pregnancy. The AP also spoke with a man who said that Chinese soldiers imprisoned him and tortured him “day and night” as well as a former doctor who described China’s efforts to stem birth rates of populations deemed undesirable by the government.

The Uyghur exiles shared their stories with the AP ahead of a U.K. tribunal beginning Friday, where they will testify virtually with dozens of other witnesses. Organizers of the tribunal hope to publicize evidence of China’s human rights abuses, the AP reported.

Fifty-five-year-old Bumeryem Rozi, who is mother to four children, told the AP that Chinese authorities came for her and other pregnant women in 2007 when she was pregnant with her fifth child. She said she complied with the authorities out of fear for her family and her home.

“I was 6.5 months pregnant … The police came, one Uyghur and two Chinese. They put me and eight other pregnant women in cars and took us to the hospital,” Rozi said from her home in Istanbul, according to the AP.

“They first gave me a pill and said to take it. So I did. I didn’t know what it was,” she added. “Half an hour later, they put a needle in my belly. And sometime after that I lost my child.”

Rozi told the publication that she will speak at the tribunal in hopes that it will help her son, who was detained by the Chinese government at age 13 in 2015, will be freed.

“I want my son to be freed as soon as possible,” she said. “I want to see him be set free.”

Former obstetrician-gynecologist Semsinur Gafur said that she and other female doctors would go house to house in Xinjiang in the 1990s checking to see if women were pregnant using a mobile ultrasound machine.

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“If a household had more births than allowed, they would raze the home … They would flatten the house, destroy it,” Gafur told the AP. “This was my life there. It was very distressing. And because I worked in a state hospital, people didn’t trust me. The Uyghur people saw me as a Chinese traitor.”

Uyghur exile Mahmut Tevekkul described being imprisoned, tortured, and interrogated in 2010 for information about his brother by Chinese authorities. Tevekkul told the publication that authorities were looking for his brother in part because his brother had published a religious book written in Arabic.

“They put us on a tiled floor, shackled our hands and feet and tied us to a pipe, like a gas pipe,” he said, according to the AP. “There were six soldiers guarding us. They interrogated us until the morning and then they took us to the maximum-security area of the prison.”

 The New York Times reported in May that Chinese authorities are specifically targeting Uyghur women’s birth rates, pressuring women to get sterilized or have IUD’s inserted. Government officials are sent to live with the women and watch to see if the women show any signs of discontent as they recover, the Times reported.

One woman said that a Chinese government official sent to watch her groped her. Others told the Times that they were detained in internment camps for having too many children or refusing contraceptives. Still others said that they were forced to take drugs that stopped their menstrual cycles, and one woman told the Times she was raped in an internment camp.

An AP investigation also previously found that the Chinese government has created a “climate of terror around having children, as seen in interview after interview.” Between 2015 and 2018, the latest years for government statistics, birthrates in the mostly Uyghur regions of Hotan and Kashgar have plummeted by over 60%, while in Xinjiang, birth rates fell almost 24% in the last year alone. Those statistics compared to the 4.2% decline in birthrates across China, according to the AP.


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