Activists Urge President Obama to Question China's One Child Policy
10 November 2009
Human rights activists and U.S. lawmakers are urging President Obama to
raise China's one-child policy during his coming visit to Beijing. A congressional human
rights panel heard wrenching testimony on Tuesday from a Chinese
woman who was forced to abort her baby, painting a horrifying picture
of one face of the human rights situation in China.
|A Chinese woman testifies anonymously behind screen|
the hearing room wearing a black cloth over her head, and sat behind a
wooden screen to avoid being photographed or recorded by television
Using the name Wujian for the hearing, she described
what happened in 2004 after she became pregnant without a birth permit
under China's one-child policy.
She went into hiding, and some
months later was picked up by Chinese family planning officials, this
after her father was detained and beaten by authorities attempting to
described, to the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, her horror as
doctors performing the abortion first killed the baby with injections,
and then cut it out of her womb.
"In the end of surgery one
nurse showed me a part of the bloody foot, with tweezers, through my
tears and the picture of the bloody foot [was] engraved in my eyes and
into my heart. I clearly saw five small bloody toes," said Wujian.
"The body of the baby was thrown into a trashcan."
three decades ago as a way to hold down China's exploding population
growth, China's one-child policy is an issue that drives members of
Congress, human rights groups, and other critics of Chinese policies to
Enforced by thousands of officials in China's provinces,
tens of thousands of women are estimated to have faced coercive
abortions, often late in their pregnancies, as well as forced
Harry Wu is a well-known activist for human
rights in China. "Every village, every district of the city, they have
the birth control policy," he said. "So far, we understand [there are]
around 400,000 workers working in the country."
Littlejohn, who heads Women's Rights Without Frontiers, an organization
dedicated to combating forced abortion and sexual slavery in China,
says Beijing would like the world to believe that it is relaxing the
On the contrary, she says, authorities have made clear
they intend to enforce it for decades to come, which means ongoing
state-sanctioned violence against women and girls.
"When we say
forced abortion, what do we mean? We mean women being literally
dragged out of their homes in the middle of the night, or even in the
middle of the day as in the case of this young woman, strapped down to
tables, pleading and crying and being forced to abort their babies,"
Littlejohn, and other witnesses want President Obama to raise the forced abortion issue when he meets with Chinese leaders.
Representative Chris Smith says any weakening of America's voice where
this and other human rights issues are concerned can only make the
|Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ)|
"I'm not saying that diplomacy doesn't have a
very valid place but when we whisper and put it on page four of a list
of talking points, that demotion in terms of priority is felt by the
receiver, in this case the Chinese dictatorship, and then they
trivialize it say it doesn't matter," he said.
Leonard Leo, who
heads the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, says
President Obama should use the opportunity to make clear to that until
China eliminates policies that repress human rights, there will not be
as productive a relationship as there could be on other bilateral
"We all know there has been some ambiguity regarding the
Obama administration's treatment of human rights in the broader agenda
with China," he said. "This trip by the president is an opportunity to
set that record straight."
In a letter to President Obama in
advance of his departure for Asia, the Commission on International
Religious Freedom urges him to make a strong public statement about the
importance of human rights to the future of U.S.-China relations, and
also urges him to meet with human rights lawyers and defenders.
Tianyong is a human rights lawyer with the Beijing Global Law Firm, who
has defended dissidents and taken cases involving the one-child policy
and along with other lawyers faced intimidation by authorities.
says the one-child policy has also subjected family members of women
who become pregnant to harassment, arrest and even torture.
says President Obama should elevate the issue when he visits Beijing.
"Mr. Obama will be visiting China very soon, and we hope he will speak
out for the victims in China," he said.
Rebiya Kadeer, activist
for ethnic Uighurs in China's far northwestern autonomous Xinjiang
province, who also testified to the panel, says her people are also
hoping or an end to the one-child policy.
government must end its practice of forced abortion and sterilization
among Uighur women and even men, and allow us to exercise our most
basic rights, the right to bear children as we wish and free of state
control, because we are less than 1 percent of China's total
population," said Kadeer.
Kadeer also had some stinging
criticism regarding the situation in Xinjiang, where authorities
executed nine Uighurs in connection with riots in Urumqi earlier this
year, saying the international community, including the United States,
had been silent on the issue.
President Obama is scheduled to
depart on his Asia trip on Thursday, and the White House says he will
be raising human rights issues with China's President Hu Jintao.