Abdureshid Obul, a Uyghur farmer, was sentenced to eight years in a concentration camp after saving his wife from a forced abortion. It has since come to light that Obul died before being released, just one year into his sentence.
According to Radio Free Asia, Obul moved his wife from their hometown of Xinjiang after she became pregnant with their fourth child in 2012. The policy in China at the time was that ethnic minorities in rural areas, like Uyghurs, were only allowed to have two children. Women who got pregnant were often forced into abortions and sterilized.
A year after giving birth, the Obul family returned to their home. Though Obul paid the fine required by the government, when the Uyghur genocide began in 2017, authorities “reconsidered” his actions and decided that he deserved a harsher punishment. Obul was sent to a concentration camp for two years before being sentenced to an additional eight years. By preventing his wife from undergoing a forced abortion, the government said he was guilty of anti-government action, religious extremism, disrupting the social order.
But in 2020, just a year into his eight-year sentence, Obul died. He was estimated to be just 50 years old.
Survivors of the Uyghur genocide have reported facing torture, sexual violence, forced abortion and sterilization, and other horrors. Estimates of the number of Uyghurs held in concentration camps range from one million to as many as three million. Whistleblowers have also come forward to report infanticide of Uyghur babies born in Xinjiang hospitals. Other prisoners have been subjected to medical experimentation and forced organ harvesting, without anesthesia, while the prisoners were still alive.
In addition to the Uyghur genocide, China is notorious for its population control policies. As China grapples with the lowest birth rate in its history, some areas have even subsidized IVF in an attempt to persuade more people to have children. Yet in reality, population control is very much still taking place, as only certain groups are allowed to reproduce freely. Those who are considered inferior under Xi Jinping’s regime — Uyghurs, Falun Gong, and other minorities — still face the same terrors and are still being forced into abortion and sterilization. Those who stand in the way and attempt to protect life, like Obul, face deadly consequences.
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