11/17/2008, 00.00
CHINA

Uyghur woman forced into abortion with one-child law

The Uyghur woman is expecting her third child, but the authorities say she can have only two, and have taken her to a hospital for an abortion. Her husband has denounced the case, and protests have erupted in the country and abroad.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - In bed number 3 of the Water Gate Hospital in Gulja (Xinjiang), Arzigul Tursun, an Uyghur woman six and a half months pregnant, is under guard. The authorities want to make her have an abortion, because this is her third child, while she is permitted to have only two.

A nurse explains "the procedure": "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." There have been many protests over the health of the woman, who is 26 weeks pregnant.

China has an official one-child policy, with severe fines and other sanctions for those who violate it. The Uyghurs, as an ethnic minority, can have two children if they live in a city, and three if they live in rural areas. Tursun is from the countryside, but her husband, Nurmemet Tohtisin, is from the city of Gulja (Yining in Chinese). They live in the village of Bulaq (near Dadamtu). All of this leaves their status unclear.

Tohtisin explained - before the authorities confiscated his cell phone - that when his wife "fled the village to avoid abortion, police and party officials and the family planning committee officials all came and interrogated us. 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." She came back. On November 11, Rashide, an official on the family planning committee, brought her by force to the hospital in Gulja. The abortion, scheduled for November 13, has been delayed until the 17th because of the many phone calls of protest from local Uyghurs and those in exile. U.S. members of congress have even intervened with Chinese ambassador Zhou Wenzhong. Now the authorities are insisting that the couple sign an "authorization."

Rashide explains that if the abortion were not possible, for example because of reasons of the mother's health, the couple would "have to pay a fine in the amount of 45,000 yuan (about 4,500 euros) - that's a lot of money, and they won't have it."

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