Int'l Furor over Forced Abortion Case in China

The international community is outraged and warns China it is watching closely the case of a Muslim Uyghur woman who is being forced against her will to have an abortion.

Arzigul Tursun, who lives in China's far northwest region, is more than six months pregnant and is being hounded by authorities who want her to have an abortion. Tursun already has two children with her husband.

Late on Sunday, Tursun fled the hospital that she was staying at while awaiting her abortion. But she was tracked down by police Monday afternoon at a relative's house and was again taken to the hospital for an abortion, according to Radio Free Asia.

"The police found my wife," Nurmemet Tohtasin, the woman's husband, said in a telephone interview from the Women and Children's Welfare Hospital, to RFA. "My wife's father was already at the hospital. They will probably do the abortion today."

The village chief and party secretary had forced her husband to find Tursun after she escaped from the hospital on Sunday. Nurmemet took officials to two of Tursun's relatives' homes and to her parents' home.

"They said if we don't find Arzigul, they would take our house and our farmland," he said.

Members of the U.S. Congress have expressed their outrage at the case that shows China's brutal tactics in controlling its population, which numbers 1.3 billion.

"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," Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.), the House Ranking member on the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, said in a statement.

Smith wrote to China's ambassador to Washington, Zhou Wenzhong, on Thursday to demand that "the nightmare of a forced abortion" be stopped. He also said the U.S. government and human rights group will be watching very carefully to what happens to Tursun and her family.

Under Chinese law, the majority Han population is only allowed to have one child, but Urban minority couples are allowed two children and rural farmers can have up to three children.

The case is complicated by the fact that Tursun has a rural household registration while her husband is registered in an urban area. Supporters of Tursun say that the abortion procedure could threaten her life.

This weekend's runaway episode was the second in recent weeks for Tursun.

When she first heard that authorities wanted her to have an abortion, she ran away from her village of Bulaq to protect her unborn child, according to McClatchy News. But she returned to her village when officials threatened to seize her family's land and property.

"We considered our two girls," her husband said in a telephone interview with McClatchy. "If the house and properties were taken away, how would they live? So my wife came back home and went to the hospital."

She was then taken to Gulja's Water Gate Hospital in Yining near the China-Kazakhstan border, and guarded by village leaders to await her forced abortion.

Medical staffs say they were ready to perform the procedure since last week, but waited because of international protest about the abortion case.

China has had more than 400 million abortions in the past three decades, according to McClatchy.

Uyghurs (pronounced WEE-gers) is a Turkic-speaking Muslim minority living in Central Asia that has a large community in the People's Republic of China. The ethnic minority group has a long and bitter history with the Chinese government with its demand for independence.

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