An unnamed Uyghur woman who claims to have worked as a gynecologist in Xinjiang, the Chinese province that Uyghur people are native to, told the U.K.’s ITV News in an interview broadcast Wednesday that she personally sterilized women, forced them to abort children, killed infants, and tore out wombs.
The woman, currently a refugee in Turkey, now works as an apparently clandestine doctor in Istanbul helping other Uyghur refugees by finding contraceptive devices they may have unknowingly had implanted and helping them assess the damage Chinese doctors may have done to their reproductive systems.
The Uyghur people are an ethnic Turkic people native to East Turkestan, their name for Xinjiang province, China’s westernmost and largest region. China has waged a campaign many call genocide against them for years, escalating aggression in the past decade by forcing as many as 3 million Uyghurs and other ethnic Turkic people into concentration camps, where survivors say they endured torture, slavery, rape, and some were fitted for live organ harvesting.
Chinese Communist Party officials have also bulldozed historic Uyghur sites like mosques and cemeteries or outfitted others with banners and murals praising communism. In one particularly egregious incident, the Communist Party replaced a storied Uyghur mosque with a public toilet.
“In 20 years, I participated in at least 500-600 operations, including forced contraception, forced abortion, and sterilization, and forced removal of wombs [hysterectomies],” the unnamed doctor told ITV News. “We’d go village to village, gather all the women and herd them onto tractors. Young women were fitted with contraceptive devices.”
“Pregnant women would have to have an abortion then sterilization. We even inserted birth control implants into women’s upper arms to prevent pregnancy. This is how the government persecuted Uyghur women,” she narrated.
The woman described the goal of the anti-birth campaigns as “ethnic cleansing,” eliminating the Uyghur population from China.
“We were asked to believe this was part of the Communist Party’s population control plan. At the time, I thought it was my job,” the woman said. “I felt sorry to see the killing of a small baby, but I never fully realized its damage to the nation. Now I feel such regret.”
ITV noted that the woman now helps Uyghurs in Istanbul by checking for secret contraceptive devices or ensuring that their uteruses are still in their bodies. She reportedly does this work in the back of a beauty salon.
ITV News noted that it could not independently verify her testimony. Yet others have gone on the record to report similar crimes.
Hasiyet Abdulla, a Uyghur obstetrician, told Radio Free Asia (RFA) last month that doctors in Xinjiang were “forced to abort and kill babies born in excess of family planning limits or who were in utero less than three years after the mother’s previous birth.”
“The regulations were so strict: there had to be three or four years between children. There were babies born at nine months who we killed after inducing labor. They did that in the maternity wards because those were the orders,” Abdullah said, noting that some babies were killed “after they’d been born.” Those cases reportedly occurred in instances where a woman would come to a hospital in labor with an “illegal” child, Abdullah said, and the mother would not know the child was killed until after she gave birth.
Among the earliest Uyghur doctors to testify to medical atrocities in Xinjiang in Enver Tohti, who said he personally cut the liver and kidneys out of a living man and was forced to leave him to do. Tohti said the gruesome crime occurred in Xinjiang in 1995; he believes the man was a political prisoner shot seconds before Communist Party officers forced Tohti to extract his organs.
In March, an international tribunal concluded that sufficient evidence existed to conclude that China was still, to this day, systematically removing organs from living political prisoners to sell them for millions on the black market. In addition to Uyghurs, Falun Gong practitioners (most of whom are Han) and human rights activists were prime candidates for organ theft.
In an extensive investigation on the matter of killing Uyghur children, the Associated Press concluded in June that the Communist Party had subjected hundreds of thousands of Uyghur women to forced abortions, forced sterilization, and the forced use of contraceptives in a bid to commit “genocide.”
“The state regularly subjects minority women to pregnancy checks, and forces intrauterine devices, sterilization and even abortion on hundreds of thousands, the interviews and data show. Even while the use of IUDs and sterilization has fallen nationwide, it is rising sharply in Xinjiang,” the AP noted.
Those who did not comply with regulations often ended up in concentration camps, the AP reported, where officials would forced them to perform dramatic apologies for having children in front of other prisoners. One witness speaking to the AP said she saw a woman apologize because she “gave birth to too many children” only to have a Communist Party official reply, “you ethnic minorities are shameless, wild, and uncivilized.”
Zumuret Dawut, a former concentration camp prisoner, told Radio Free Asia a year ago that the Communist Party forcibly sterilized her.
“On the day of my operation, I was taken inside the operating room, all I remember was that I was given an infusion. When I opened my eyes … There was no medical staff, doctors or nurses It was a very cold day, and I was covered with only a thin bed sheet,” she recalled. “No one was allowed to visit from outside. When I looked around I heard other women moaning from pain. Once the effect of the anaesthetic wore off, I felt a sharp pain in my lower abdominal.”
The Communist Party does not deny the existence of the concentration camps, but insists they are “vocational training centers” where ethnic minorities learn job skills to compete with Han people in the Chinese economy.