November 17, 2008 -- A mother of two faces a forced abortion in China this week, according to human rights groups, a violation they say demonstrates that the most brutal aspects of China's population control policies are still prevalent in the county's western regions.
Arzigul Tursun, six months pregnant with her third child, is under guard in a hospital in China's northwestern Xinjiang region, scheduled to undergo an abortion against her will because authorities say she is entitled to only two children, according to the Uyghur Human Rights Project.
The case has sparked outrage in the United States among members of Congress. Republican Chris Smith of New Jersey, the House Ranking Member on the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, called forced abortions a "barbaric practice," and made a personal appeal on behalf of Tursun directly to Chinese ambassador Zhou Wenzhong.
"I appeal to the Chinese Government not to forcibly abort Arzigul," said Smith. "The Chinese Government is notorious for this barbaric practice, but to forcibly abort a woman while the world watches in full knowledge of what is going on would make a mockery of its claim that the central government disapproves of the practice, and of the UN Population Fund pretense that it has moderated the Chinese population planners' cruelty."
Smith said that human rights groups and the U.S. Government will be watching very carefully to see what happens to Tursun and her family.
Radio Free Asia reported that when Tursun refused to abort her child earlier this week and fled her village, village authorities interrogated and threatened her relatives until they were able to take her into custody on November 11.
"The deputy chief of the village threatened that if we didn't find Arzigul and bring her to the village, she would confiscate our land and all our property," Tursun's husband Nurmemet Tohtasin told RFA's Uyghur Service.
"My wife is being kept in the hospital—village officials are guarding her," Tohtisin told RFA.
Tursun and her family are members of the Uyghur Muslim group based in China's western region of Xinjiang.
China's one-child policy applies mainly to the Han Chinese majority in China, but allows ethnic minorities, including Uyghurs, to have additional children, with peasants permitted to have three children and city-dwellers two, according to Xinhua, China's official news agency.
But while Tursun is a peasant, her husband is from the city of Yining (Gulja in Uyghur) so their status is unclear. The couple live with their two children in Yining, according the UHRP and RFA.
A nurse at the Gulja's Water Gate Hospital told RFA that Tursun is at the hospital: "We will give an injection first. Then she will experience abdominal pain, and the baby will come out by itself. But we haven't given her any injection yet—we are waiting for instructions from the doctors."
The Chinese Embassy could not be reached for comment.