From Catholic News Service
Woman says China targets Muslim population for forced family planning
By Regina Linskey, Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Chinese authorities are targeting an
autonomous Muslim population for forced family planning, said a
woman once held as a Chinese political prisoner.
During a wide-ranging congressional hearing that spotlighted
China's often-criticized human rights record, Rep. Christopher
Smith, R-N.J., also heard testimony about violations of religious
freedom. Smith, the only congressman present, chairs the House
subcommittee that oversees global human rights.
The April 19 hearings were conducted the day before U.S.
President George W. Bush met with Chinese President Hu Jintao.
Rebiya Kadeer, president of the International Uyghur Human Rights
and Democracy Foundation and a former political prisoner, testified
through an English translator that in February a senior government
official targeted the predominantly Muslim Uighur people, who live
in the rural area of Xinjiang, an autonomous region between Tibet
and Kazakhstan, for family planning.
The Chinese government recently announced that the Xinjiang
region's population has increased, an occurrence Kadeer calls
ironic. The increase in population is the result of government
incentives that have been attracting Chinese migrants, she said, but
the Uighur people's numbers are decreasing because of "forced,
late-term abortions" and "forced sterilizations."
"The justification for this is that reducing the number of births
in rural areas -- by whatever means -- will reduce poverty and will
also reduce the need for more resources to be spent on education,
health," she said.
Kadeer, who told the hearing she is concerned for family members
harassed by the Chinese police because of her outspokenness, later
said in a question-and-answer session that many women are not
treated medically before or after the forced abortions, leaving them
in physical and psychological pain.
"Coercive family planning policy in China has slaughtered more
innocent children than any war in human history," Smith said in his
opening statement. Because of forced abortions, sterilizations and
the murder of baby girls, one of the psychological consequences of
coercive family planning is that some 500 Chinese women commit
suicide daily, Smith said.
He later added that the U.N. Population Fund has contributed this
year to China's population control policy and that "a stamp of
approval by UNFPA (U.N. Population Fund) is unconscionable."
"Brothers and sisters are illegal," Smith said. "One Chinese
demographer has admitted that, by 2020, 40 million Chinese men won't
be able to find wives because Beijing's weapon of mass destruction
-- population control -- has destroyed the girls."
A byproduct of the population control program is that women have
become a valuable commodity in the human trafficking trade, said
Steven Mosher, president of the Virginia-based Population Research
A few of the witnesses said the hope that China's economic growth
would bring civil and religious rights has proven to be false.
Joseph Kung, president of the Connecticut-based Cardinal Kung
Foundation, said the underground Catholic Church in China continues
to be persecuted. Kung listed in detail priests and bishops who have
been reported missing or were arrested in the past year and
estimated that hundreds more Catholics are in prison because of
their refusal to join the government-approved Chinese Catholic
Patriotic Association. He said those who refuse to join and register
with the government-approved church risk punishment in labor camps
for up to three years. Many Catholics are harassed, Kung said.
He said Bishop James Su Zhimin has not been seen since his arrest
in 1997. Bishop Su was arrested at least five times before, Kung
said, and so far has spent about 27 years in prison.
Since the late 1950s, China has had a government-recognized
church that officially spurns ties with the Vatican, although Hong
Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun has said up to 85 percent of
government-approved bishops have reconciled with the Vatican. An
underground church, which has maintained loyalty to the Pope,
continues to exist, and in many areas the two churches intermingle
without much government interference.
In March the Vatican's foreign minister, Archbishop Giovanni
Lajolo, said that unofficial Vatican talks with the Chinese
government have been marked by "highs and lows, as happens in any
negotiation," but so far "have not been without fruit." He noted
that midlevel government officials do not seem as open to church
relations as high-level officials; similarly, some Chinese church
observers have said midlevel officials are responsible for the
persecution of underground Catholics in some areas of the country.
Kung said restrictions on religious freedom are occurring as the
Chinese government is preparing for the 2008 Summer Olympics.
"The spirit of the Olympic Games is being downgraded by their
coexistence with the evil spirit of religious persecutions in
China," he said. "The noble name of 'Olympic' is severely being
Kung said he thought the Bush-Hu meeting was a good opportunity,
because "difference of opinion can only be deepened if they (the
U.S. and China) don't talk."
However, Harry Wu of the Laogai Research Foundation, which
documents abuses in China's forced labor camps, asked whether the
United States should welcome a president whose nation's policies
violate "basic human rights."
China has been listed by the U.S. State Department as a "country
of particular concern," a label granted only to countries with gross
violations of human rights.
Copyright (c) 2003 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The CNS news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed, including but not limited to such means as framing or any other digital copying or distribution method, in whole or in part without the prior written authority of Catholic News Service.
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