An ethnic Uyghur woman faces an imminent abortion of her third child, Radio Free Asia reported.
Uyghur woman faces forced abortion ordered by China
- Publish date:17/11/2008
The report said "Arzigul Tursun, six months pregnant with her third child, is under guard in a hospital in East Turkistan region, scheduled to undergo an abortion against her will because authorities say she is entitled to only two children."
"Arzigul is being kept in bed number three," a nurse in the women's section at Gulja's Water Gate Hospital told Radio Free Asia in a telephone interview.
"We will give an injection first. Then she will experience abdominal pain, and the baby will come out by itself. But we haven't given her any injection yet—we are waiting for instructions from the doctors."
China's one-child-per-family policy applies mainly to majority Han Chinese but allows ethnic minorities, including Uyghurs, to have additional children, with peasants permitted to have three children and city-dwellers two.
But while Tursun is a peasant, her husband, Nurmemet Tohtasin, is from the city of Gulja [in Chinese, Yining] so their status is unclear. The couple live with their two children in Bulaq village, Dadamtu township, in Gulja.
Their experience sheds rare light on how China's one-child policy is enforced in remote parts of the country.
"My wife is being kept in the hospital—village officials are guarding her," Tohtisin said before authorities directed him late Thursday to switch off his mobile phone.
"When she fled the village to avoid abortion, police and Party officials, and the family planning committee officials, all came and interrogated us," he said. "The deputy chief of the village, a Chinese woman named Wei Yenhua, threatened that if we didn't find Arzigul and bring her to the village, she would confiscate our land and all our property."
On Nov. 11, Tohtisin said, an official named Rashide from the village family planning committee came to their home and escorted the couple, along with Arzigul's father, to the Gulja's municipal Water Gate Hospital.
There, Tohtisin said, he was pressured into signing forms authorizing an abortion.
"The abortion should be carried out because according to the family planning policy of China, you're not allowed to have more children than the government has regulated. Therefore she should undergo an abortion. This is their third child. She is 6-1/2 months pregnant now," Rashide said.
"If her health is normal, then the abortion will definitely take place. Otherwise they have to pay a fine in the amount of 45,000 yuan (U.S. $ 6,590)—that's a lot of money, and they won't have it," she added.
Arzigul Tursun's abortion was originally scheduled for Thursday, but hospital authorities said they had postponed it until Monday after numerous calls from local and exiled Uyghurs.
Officials then told her husband to switch off his mobile phone and stop making calls.
According to the official news agency, Xinhua, Uyghurs in the countryside are permitted three children while city-dwellers may have two.
Under "special circumstances," rural families are permitted one more child, although what constitutes special circumstances was unclear.
The government also uses financial incentives and disincentives to keep the birthrate low.
Couples can also pay steep fines to have more children, although the fines are well beyond most people's means.
US Congressional appeal
Rep. Chris Smith, a Republican from New Jersey in the U.S. House of Representatives, appealed on Thursday to Chinese Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong to intervene.
"Human rights groups and the U.S. government will be watching very carefully to see what happens to Arzigul and her family," Smith, senior member of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, said in a statement.
"I appeal to the Chinese government not to forcibly abort Arzigul."