Graphic via @tibettruth
Graphic via @tibettruth
It’s the international day against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and various social networking platforms are buzzing with discussions and comments in opposition to this issue. Anyone concerned with women’s human rights is naturally promoting this important event and demanding an end to the practice of FGM. The global outrage surrounding a vicious disfigurement and abuse of a woman’s freedom of control over her own body has attracted concerted and fierce opposition. Such a response contrasts starkly with the subject of China’s medical atrocities. While feminists, women’s NGOs and bodies such as the United Nations Fund for Population and United Nations Commission On The Status of Women are rightly campaigning against FGM they are virtually invisible when it comes to China’s forced sterilization of women.
Is the slicing open of a woman against her will, forcibly sterilized through such ‘surgery’, any less an atrocity than the practice of FGM? Clearly not as both constitute a violent abuse of women’s human rights. Yet the influential and agitated voices of condemnation on FGM, maintain a cold-hearted silence on the countless numbers of women forcibly sterilized by China.
While we support and respect all who are campaigning to end FGM such efforts are somewhat demeaned by the worrying absence of equivalent action against China’s program of forced sterilizations. Surely all violence against women should be equally and forcefully opposed?
Editor’s Note: Folks this post is by necessity detailed and features various links for cross reference, given the nature of the topic being examined we have no choice but opt for such a disclosure. We hope you will take time to go through this with care and attention which will will appraise you of the extent of censorship and appeasement that infests the United Nations with regard to China’s notorious population control program and its deeply disturbing atrocities.
The United Nation’s Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) concluded November 7 its fifty-ninth session in which it adopted concluding observations and recommendations on China. It’s central purpose was to establish how China implements the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. A somewhat misplaced exercise, rather like asking a clinically certified pyromaniac how his aversion to flames is progressing! The facts would always be in short supply from a regime notorious for censorship, evasion and deceit, especially when considering that China’s representative was Ms. Song Xiuyan. She is executive member of China’s communist party, Minister and Vice-Chairperson of National Committee on Women and Children under the State Council China, and vice Chairman (sic) of the All China Women’s Federation (ACWF), a national organization that enforces China’s notorious population control policies upon women in China, and occupied Tibet and East Turkestan.
She knows about Tibet having (until January 2010) been a so-called Governor in Amdo, one of occupied Tibet’s three regions (re-named by communist China’s regime as Qinghai Province). During her time there Ms Song displayed a racist intolerance towards Tibetan culture and was deeply resented by Tibetans, particularly given her reportedly close political relationship with China’s former President Hu Jintao. Whose hands are covered in Tibetan blood. According to one well-informed Tibetan source Ms. Song was publicly dismissive of Tibetan culture, an attitude that was reflected in her draconian term of office in the region. It was reported that on occasion she demanded that newly constructed government buildings, including schools, be rebuilt, if they included traditional Tibetan features!
It is not just Ms Song Xiuyan’s barely concealed racism that is troubling, but the organization of which she is joint head, the All China Women’s Federation, whose automaton-like members infest every village, town and city, and are responsible at a local level for the enforcement of the population program. Through a spiral of intimidation and coercion they trample over women’s human and reproductive rights to meet Government population targets, imposing fines, organizing education campaigns, withdrawing employment and housing rights, and if such bullying fails, forcibly sterilizing women. Such harrowing violations are all committed in loyal obedience to China’s communist party ideology. Anyone wishing to learn more about the ACWF’s complicity and implementation of these atrocities is advised to read Susan Greenhalgh’s Chinese State Birth Planning in the 1990s And Beyond
Ms Song Xiuyan who has been warmly received on previous occasions by the UN Commission on the Status of Women and headed China’s delegation at the 59th CEDAW Session and once again managed to largely evade and lie on the subject of forced-sterilizations, an atrocity which the United Nations and Women’s NGOs are virtually silent upon.
Image:archivenet/graphic from @tibettruth
Having carefully examined the documents associated with the latest CEDAW report on China we regret to inform readers that once again those within the UN who claim to be champions of women’s human rights have chosen to marginalize and dilute the issue. So let’s take a look at what was stated, we begin March 10, 2014 when CEDAW published a list of issues it linked directly with China, that would be addressed in its forthcoming reports.See HERE In a section on violence against women there was no mention of China’s forced sterilization program, as we have revealed previously the UN clearly does not regard the issue as constituting a violent act against women. There are just three very slanted references which petition the Chinese authorities for a response, the first features in a section on Stereotypes and harmful practices
“Please indicate how the laws against sex-selective abortion, forced sterilization and female infanticide are monitored and enforced?”
The next appears in a section on health, paragraph 18 includes this curiously selective request of the Chinese authorities:
“Please also provide information on the progress made to combat forced abortions, and reported forced sterilization of transgender women”
The next paragraph asks of China:
“Please explain the measures taken to combat the phenomenon of forced abortions and sterilization of pregnant women who test positive for HIV”
Image:remkotanis/graphic from @tibettruth
These somewhat circumscribed and distorted appeals could not have been more precisely engineered to avoid China facing questions on the staggering scale of forced sterilizations that’s traumatizing countless numbers of women across China and illegally occupied territories such as Tibet, East Turkestan and Southern Mongolia. We can only conclude that the executives within CEDAW and their colleagues in the UN Commission On The Status Of Women are unconcerned with the plight of millions of women across China who are neither positive for HIV or transgender, that face or who suffer being dragged from their homes and being forcibly sterilized, courtesy of the very organization headed by the Chinese Minister so generously applauded by CEDAW in its report’s opening comments!
Note the willingness to accept the existence and practice of supposed laws on countering forced-sterilizations, how naive is CEDAW in swallowing the official propaganda of China’s Regime on the issue. The various cynical assurances offered by China, along with various legislation on the subject offer no genuine protection and meanwhile women continue to be subject to forced sterilizations. Can you imagine say the International Red Cross agreeing to question reports of forced sterilizations in Nazi Germany and then proceeding to ask Heinrich Himmler for a progress report without demanding to know the full extent of such atrocities, how many women were targeted, or evidence of those responsible being prosecuted! In constructing such a singular and specific questions CEDAW has enabled the Chinese Regime to circumvent the major concerns relating to its coercive population control program and the medical atrocities it inflicts. As usual it was aided by an unquestioning mainstream media which chose not to report on the glaring deficiencies and instead placed a positive, if misleading spin that focused on Chinese intimidation of activists See HERE
Against this background we awaited with interest the November 7 publication of CEDAW’s China report and its recommendations, so let’s go see what has been said on the subject
“Stereotypes and harmful practices 24. The Committee recalls its previous concluding observations (CEDAW/C/CHN/CO/6, para. 17) and remains concerned at the persistence of deep-rooted stereotypes regarding the roles and responsibilities of women and men in the family and society, as reflected in the tradition of son-preference, resulting in the adverse sex-ratio by means of illegal sex-selective abortion as well as illegal practices of forced abortion and sterilisation (sic) and infanticide of girls.” (emphasis added) see HERE
Excuse us?! So let’s get this right shall we, the UN’s CEDAW rests responsibility for forced sterilizations, not on a centrally authorized, funded and engineered population control program but as a consequence of societal and stereotype factors? Just in case anyone was unsure if the UN was choosing to paint these harrowing atrocities as nothing but isolated criminal events, unrelated to the policies of the Chinese authorities, it followed up that reference with these comments:
“25. The Committee…… urges the State party to..(b) Intensify the implementation of existing legal measures to address sex-selective abortions, forced abortions, sterilisations (sic) and infanticide of girls” see HERE
Given the continuing censorship and evasion shown towards this major human rights issue, served by the political agendas of member states, we cannot expect any critique and certainly no examination of China’s continuing violation of women’s human rights or its mass campaigns of forced sterilizations suffered by countless women. CEDAW has again failed.
One of the great fictions subscribed to by a number of prominent Tibet related organizations is that Tibetans are exempt from the atrocities generated by China’s notorious birth-control program. Such groups form this conclusion based upon the official declarations of the Chinese regime, interviews with a handful of Tibetans or the claims of anthropologists whose career interests require a pro-China line!
Curiously such credulity towards an authority expert in deception and propaganda does not extend to other human rights issues. Seems there’s a disconnect at work, with salaried lobbyists simultaneously rejecting China’s claims that Tibetans are not subject to human rights abuses, yet willing to accept without critique assertions from the Chinese government that the grim excesses of China’s one-child policy, including forced sterilizations, are not applied in occupied Tibet!
There exists however a considerable body of detailed information, testimony and witnessed accounts that reveals Tibetans have indeed suffered such abuses and continue to do so. Moreover statements from a number of Chinese officials have over the years conceded such a reality, the most recent was featured in a report by Zee News, an Indian based news-site.
Sadly mainstream media has a tendency to repeat as factual the official pretensions served up by China’s regime, a habit much to the delight of the Ministry Of Disinformation in Beijing which uses such gullibility to spread various propaganda aimed at diluting and deflecting international concern on any range of human rights issues. Meanwhile of course the violations continue, as women in China who suffer forced sterilizations would testify.
The Zee News report however, while displaying a naivete of breathtaking proportions, reported a concession from Yang Wenzhuang that Tibet and East Turkestan had not yet relaxed the regulations pertaining to the one-child policy, now the propaganda line is that so-called ethnic minorities were exempt from such restrictions. Yet here we have a leading Minister in China’s Family Planning Commission acknowledging without qualification that these occupied territories have indeed been subject to such regulation!
What does the British ‘Foreign Office’ (the equivalent of the State Department) say about China’s policy of forced sterilizations? Well usually absolutely nothing, a tradition followed by its sister organization the ‘Department For International Development’. However there were raised hopes on the release of its 2014 Human Rights and Democracy Report which mentioned at least the issue. Yet before rushing off those congratulatory emails best to closely read what the English Mandarins decided to say on the matter:
“There were continued reports of illegal coercive implementation of family planning policies, including forced abortions and sterilisations.” (Emphasis Added) SOURCE
Well of course absolutely nothing to do with those nice folks at China’s regime, just the criminal excesses of a few over-zealous birth-control officials. right? Wrong! The British authorities know very well that the atrocities arising from China’s population control program are centrally engineered, resourced, endorsed and administered by the Chinese authorities at national, regional and local level.
So what’s behind this fact-free reference in its report? Always careful not to upset relations with China, yet mindful of increasing outrage at these human rights violations the officials of the Foreign Office concocted this as a compromise response. Imagine for one moment the grisly forced sterilizations of Nazi-Germany being dismissed by British officials as being the responsibility of Hitler’s regime and you can get near the nauseating stench of denial and hypocrisy that pervades such a cynical offering.
The ever-present motivation for such deception is trade and repairing, at times fragile relations with Beijing, the self-serving words that whitewash the suffering of countless women across China who are being forcibly sterilized, will no doubt meet the approval of the Chinese regime.
What are reproductive rights? Well if you ask the majority of women attending #csw61 in New York, (a back-slapping festival hosted by the United Nations Commission On The Status On Women-UNCSW), the response would focus on making available family planning education and resources. Which by extension enables a woman to determine freely when to give birth and how many children she wishes. The consequences of such provision include improved health, along with economic and social benefits for women currently denied such choices, that access to family planning. Not only that but in providing family planning to women it seems we can also tackle the major environmental issue of climate change, a topic that has been woven into the reproductive rights argument at recent UN discussions, partly as a political move to enhance the arguments being presented and as an encouragement for further support from within the environmental movement. If you had any doubts at the global impact of family planning as a supposed panacea to the world’s primary challenge be convinced by the words of Huffington Post contributor Diane MacEachern.
“Because ensuring that women have full reproductive rights creates one of the most desirable “two-fers” on the planet. Complete access to voluntary family planning is among the quickest, simplest, and most affordable ways to improve women’s quality of life. It is also one of the most direct, immediate and cost-effective ways to reduce climate change. In fact, studies show that slowing population growth by giving women access to the contraception they already want could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by between 8 and 15 percent — roughly equivalent to ending all tropical deforestation.” (Source: Women Leave Rio+20 Motivated to Galvanize Sustainability Around Family Planning and Reproductive Rights. 7.02.2012
It is an attractive and persuasive argument and no doubt embraced with zeal by environmentalists and feminists, yet in the clamor to press the logic and justice of such reasoning the debates at UN forums, while articulating reproductive rights consistently fail to address a hugely important element of women’s reproductive freedoms, a woman’s right to be able to determine, without coercion, the spacing and number of children. Now this right (which was formalized at the ICPD and is reflected in CEDAW) is purely theoretical for the countless millions of women who suffer China’s forced sterilizations and forced abortions, for them there are no reproductive freedoms, only a highly draconian and totalitarian system that enforces a range of coercive measures upon women to make them comply with the dictates of the state. Should financial penalties, arbitrary arrest, confiscation of property or loss of employment and housing rights fail women face the horrors of forced sterilization.
Unfortunately, as occurs regularly at the UNCSW, this gross violation of women’s human rights remains a taboo subject, marginalized,evaded and callously ignored by women’s NGOs during debates on reproductive rights. Yet without ensuring human rights are central to the provision of population control policies and practice, arguing for greater reproductive choice and services is divested of credibility and ethical authority. Yes reproductive rights are advanced by providing family planning resources and associated education programs, but they must also include the right of a woman not to be viciously assaulted by the state, denied control over her own body and suffer harrowing medical atrocities under the name of population control. Nor is it enough to claim such rights are enshrined in international statutes such as CEDAW and the ICPD while China enforces a program that so violently trashes those principles, yet the champions of reproductive freedoms offer not a word of opposition or condemnation. Informed and free choice yes, education and access to family planning by all means, but should not those who campaign on such issues be demanding those freedoms and services are extended to women suffering China’s population control policies?
Well are you that surprised that the UN General Assembly today voted in favor of China taking a permanent seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council? The world has observed the vomit inducing hypocrisy of that failed institution for decades, a weary resignation and sense of powerlessness has greeted the UN’s troubling record. It’s history in places such as Bosnia, Rwanda, the Congo and Afghanistan is a disgraceful litany of various atrocities, including reports of sex-trafficking, rape, extortion and corruption, hardly the glittering principles it so loudly declares! Such a resumé makes it a perfect bed-fellow for China’s regime of course, whose genocidal actions have been ignored and tolerated by the UN for decades.
China’s representatives now taking their place upon the United Nations Human Rights Council, do so contemptuously indifferent, as indeed is the Organization itself to the views of world opinion, that this appointment makes a mockery of the values and ethics upon which the UN claims to be founded. In allowing China an influential, and no doubt censorial voice on the issue of human rights, however credible it was viewed as an international guardian of human rights is seriously corroded.
We should take time-out to consider again the selective and distorted focus of the UN in regard to human rights. Most particularly as they apply to women. As readers of this Blog may know each year in New York the United Nation’s Commission On The Status Of Women (UNCSW) hosts an international meeting of representatives, and facilitates a parallel event for Non-Governmental participants to address issues of equality, human rights, education, health and justice. Did however you realize that despite being fully aware of a major violation of women’s human rights there’s one subject assiduously avoided and never featured on the agenda of the UNCSW or its NGO associates?
It may seem hard to take in, after all these bodies are dedicated to human rights principles and advancing women’s freedoms and rights, but a collective silence shrouds the subject of China’s population control program and its well documented abuse of human rights and reproductive freedoms. When informed of atrocities generated by that program, which have been reported by respected organizations such as Amnesty International, the UNCSW and women’s NGOs exhibit a staggering and callous indifference. See HERE Yet various groups have since the early 1990s been submitting reports, and media accounts on the abuse suffered by women in China and occupied lands such as Tibet, East Turkestan,Southern Mongolia and Manchuria, whose lives have been blighted by the horrors of forced sterilizations.
Tibettruth too has been highly active on the issue for the past few years, lobbying participants at the UNCSW, researching and publishing briefing documents and releasing a major report on coercive birth control in occupied Tibet. Many of our friends on Twitter are engaged in raising awareness of this subject and conduct an online lobby of the UNCSW, generating an international debate and questioning the silence. Appeals and research material has been sent directly to the UNCSW, prominent representatives, and key note speakers attending its annual forum, such outreach is met with an evasion and reticence that surpasses the Free Masons!
Before anyone dismisses such a claim as exaggeration consider this, the theme of the 2013 UNCSW meeting was centered on the elimination of violence against women, and many issues were given forceful and detailed examination, apart that is from China’s forced sterilizations. Leading UN agencies issued a declaration and absent was even an oblique mention of that gross example of violence.This disturbing unwillingness to discuss what is clearly a serious violation of human rights is not restricted to the forum of the UNCSW, indeed there would seem to exist across the fabric of United Nations an institutionalized policy that ensures no mention or criticism of China’s coercive population control program and its forced sterilizations. On June 27/28 2013 The UN held a twenty year revision of the accords and progress arising from the World Conference On Human Rights held in Vienna. This review was titled ‘Advancing The Protection Of Human Rights’ and we shall come back to its shortcomings presently, however before doing so it’s important and instructive to note that the 1993 Conference while devoting considerable attention to women’s human rights, significantly failed to include any reference to violations of reproductive rights or mention of forced sterilizations:
“38. In particular, the World Conference on Human Rights stresses the importance of working towards the elimination of violence against women in public and private life, the elimination of all forms of sexual harassment, exploitation and trafficking in women, the elimination of gender bias in the administration of justice and the eradication of any conflicts which may arise between the rights of women and the harmful effects of certain traditional or customary practices, cultural prejudices and religious extremism. The World Conference on Human Rights calls upon the General Assembly to adopt the draft declaration on violence against women and urges States to combat violence against women in accordance with its provisions. Violations of the human rights of women in situations of armed conflict are violations of the fundamental principles of international human rights and humanitarian law. All violations of this kind, including in particular murder, systematic rape, sexual slavery, and forced pregnancy, require a particularly effective response.” Source: UN World Conference On Human Rights 1993
It’s a fairly detailed list of issues yet the UN deemed that the horrors of China’s forced sterilizations were unworthy of criticism or inclusion at a conference dedicated to human rights! This illustrates not some disappointing administrative oversight by the United Nations, nor is it reflecting a lack of awareness, it is demonstration of censorship, informed by an agenda that refuses to oppose, condemn or even acknowledge China’s population control program as constituting a violation of human rights.
Let’s return to the assembled UN delegates who gathered during June 2013 to discuss the advancement of human rights, their report also included a section on women and specifically recommendations on how to oppose violence. What issues did they consider of importance for inclusion? Well again there was the generalized platitude on eliminating all forms of violence against women followed by more specific details:
“Address the intersection of gender based discrimination, poverty, socio-economic marginalization and violence, as well as the links among trafficking in human beings, corruption, terrorism, militarism, small arms and gender-based violence…Give special attention to women and girls in all situations of vulnerability and multiple
forms of discrimination who are particularly at risk of gender-based violence….Prevent and eliminate all forms of harmful practices, including female genital mutilation, and make such acts punishable in national legislation and ensure their prosecution.” Source: VIENNA+20: ADVANCING THE PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS Achievements, Challenges and Perspectives 20 Years after the World Conference June 27/28 2013
So there we have it two decades after the first World Conference On Human Rights chose to ignore the atrocities of China’s forced sterilizations its UN successors issued another report that made no mention of these violations. Seen in parallel with the adamantine silence of the UNCSW and associated Women’s NGOs on the subject, and mindful that highly detailed information on such abuses is available, and considering too that such organizations have been lobbied on this issue for many years, we are in the presence of mindset that refuses to accept such practices as an abuse of human rights. Given such a corruption of thinking and this callous disregard for its ethical responsibility and obligations towards human rights, the United Nations while posturing as champion of individual freedoms, and issuing platitudes on Tibet, is a suitable partner in crime with China’s regime.