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Uyghur Gynecologist Says China Sterilized 80 People a Day for Years

Some state-run detention centers for ethnic Uyghurs in China’s western Xinjiang territory oversaw as many as 80 forced sterilization surgeries per day in recent years, an exiled Uyghur gynecologist who treated women in the camps alleged in a recent interview.

“[O]n some days there were about 80 surgeries to carry out forced sterilizations,” told Japan’s Sankei Shimbun newspaper last week.

The newspaper identified the female gynecologist simply as Gülgine. The doctor, herself an ethnic Uyghur, spoke to the Sankei Shimbun from Istanbul, Turkey, where she immigrated in 2011.

“A lot of women were put on the back of a truck and sent to the hospital,” Gülgine said. “The [sterilization] procedure took about five minutes each, but the women were crying because they did not know what was happening to them.”

Gülgine, 47, said she personally carried out sterilizations of Uyghur women at a hospital in Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi.

Showing the Japanese newspaper images of intrauterine devices (IUDs), the gynecologist said “these devices were inserted into women’s wombs.”

“I understood the meaning of the surgery, but I later learned that it was a policy for the Uyghur,” Gülgine said, “and I too was sterilized.”

Gülgine estimated that forced sterilization began around 1980, decades before the revelation that the Chinese Communist Party was building concentration camps for Uyghur and other Muslim ethnic minority people.

Roughly 50,000 Uyghur refugees like Gülgine have fled Xinjiang for Turkey in recent years. Gülgine said some of the exiled Uyghur women have visited her in Istanbul, “complaining that they cannot have children. She has examined more than 150 so far, but many don’t know they have been sterilized, and some women start crying in anger when she explains what has happened to them,” according to the Japan Forward news site.

Uyghurs are a Turkic-speaking, Sunni Muslim ethnic group native to Central Asia, which borders Xinjiang to the west. Human rights organizations have accused the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) of forcibly detaining 1-3 million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in forced labor camps in Xinjiang since at least 2017. The CCP officially denies the allegation and says it operates vocational centers in Xinjiang featuring Marxist education programs as part of an effort to integrate ethnic minorities into China’s workforce and society. Survivors and ex-employees of Xinjiang’s detention centers have testified to suffering or having witnessed slave labor conditions, physical and sexual torture, and forced sterilizations.

The BBC published a report on February 3 alleging “several former detainees and a guard” at Xinjiang camps told the broadcaster “they experienced or saw evidence of an organized system of mass rape, sexual abuse, and torture.”

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