Human Rights

Uyghur woman who escaped forced abortion dies in prison

woman, prison, Uyghur

Radio Free Asia has reported that a Uyghur woman who fled a Xinjiang hospital in 2014 to escape a forced abortion has died in prison. She was allegedly imprisoned for that very action.

In 2014, before giving birth, Zeynebhan Memtimin was taken by authorities to a hospital in Hotan prefecture. When she learned she was going to be forced into an abortion, she somehow managed to escape and was able to give birth to her baby. When her child turned three in 2017, Zeynebhan was arrested. She was detained along with her husband, Metqurban Abdulla, who reportedly helped her escape the hospital. Both were charged with “disturbing the social order” and “religious extremism” for not giving in to the forced abortion. They were sentenced to 10 years in prison — likely in a concentration camp.

In 2014 it was illegal for ethnic minorities to have more than two children, and when the pregnancy was discovered Metqurban paid the required fine. But that wasn’t enough for authorities and they tried to force Zeynebhan into an abortion anyway.

READ: Pelosi: China is committing genocide, but we’ll work with them anyway

A police officer in Arish village, where the couple was from, confirmed to Radio Free Asia that they were sentenced to 10 years in Keriye Prison and that Zeynebhan was 40 years old when she died. The officer explained that Zeynebhan had violated population control policies, and blamed her death on her four children. “Since she had multiple births, it’s natural that she died from illness,” the officer said.

The whereabouts or safety of the couple’s four children are not known.

Last month, a Uyghur farmer was confirmed to have died in a concentration camp after saving his wife and child from a forced abortion. Like Metqurban, Abdureshid Obul paid the fine when his wife became illegally pregnant, but years later, authorities arrested him anyway; he died just one year into his sentence. Both families faced these repercussions only once the Uyghur genocide began in 2017.

The Uyghur genocide has produced survivors with horrifying testimonies, including torture, sexual violence, forced abortion, and sterilization. Others have been victims of medical experimentation and organ harvesting without anesthesia, while the prisoners were still alive. Still other whistleblowers have testified to infanticide taking place in Xinjiang hospitals of Uyghur newborns.

It is believed that between one and three million Uyghurs are currently being held in concentration camps in China.

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