Note: The following is an open letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao from human rights activist Reggie Littlejohn, President, Women’s Rights Without Frontiers.
Dear President Hu Jintao:
As you know, today is the tragic 32nd anniversary of the official institution of China’s brutal One Child Policy, which has caused incalculable suffering to the women and families of China.
Feng Jianmei, for example, was forcibly aborted at seven months when she and her husband, Deng Jiyuan, could not pay a 40,000 yuan fine ($6300). Officials of Ankang City, Shaanxi Province, tried to force Feng into a car, but she escaped to her aunt’s house. They broke through the gate, so she fled to the mountains, where officials found her hiding under a bed. After forcibly aborting her baby, officials laid the bloody body of her dead daughter next to her in the bed. The story and photograph immediately went viral, sent shockwaves around the world, and ignited a firestorm of outrage.
Our hearts go out to the victims of forced abortion and their families. The coercive enforcement of China’s cruel and barbaric One Child Policy causes more violence towards women and girls than any other official policy on earth. It is China’s war against women and girls. Women are forcibly aborted up to the ninth month of pregnancy. Forced abortion is not a choice. It is systematic, institutionalized violence against women, official government rape; and it continues to this day. Women’s Rights Without Frontiers urges you to put an end to this hideous crime against humanity.
Feng Jianmei is not alone. Several other cases of coercion have emerged in the past year:
Lijing County, Shandong Province. October 12, 2011. Jihong Ma died during a forced abortion, six months pregnant. Due to the trauma of being seized by Family Planning Officials, she had been placed on oxygen. In the words of a family member:
“More than ten persons from the Family Planning Bureau came, took off the oxygen mask from her and forced her to induce labor. From the time she was put into operating room at 4:00 p.m., there was no news about her . . . At night around 10:00 p.m., someone came, opened the door of the delivery room and slipped away. We ran into the delivery room and saw that the doctors and nurses all disappeared while poor Jihong Ma’s body had already been totally freezing cold, with purple lips and bleeding nose, lying on the operating table without any movement.”
Linyi City, Shandong Province. March 2012. A photo of a forcibly aborted full term baby drowned in a bucket, submitted anonymously, circulated on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, and in the West. The infant reportedly cried at birth, but was drowned in a bucket by family planning personnel.
Huangqiao Town, Jishui County, Jiangxi Province. March 2012. A 46-year-old woman was forcibly sterilized, in retaliation for bringing a petition. The woman posted the following account on the internet:
On March 14, my husband was being escorted back from making a petition. To retaliate for his petition, the town government sent more than 20 strong men. I could no longer give birth to a child at that time, but they still dragged my legs, treated me like an animal, and forcibly performed a tubal ligation on the operating table of the Family Planning Office. Guoqing Luo (the Deputy Town Secretary) also exclaimed, “The Government takes the consequences! The Government has the money!”
Cao Ruyi, Changsha City, Hunan Province. June 2012 and ongoing. Five months pregnant, Cao Ruyi was detained by Family Planning Officials, who beat her husband and attempted to forcibly abort her. They demanded that she pay the Chinese equivalent of approximately $24,000, or face forced abortion. Because of international pressure, this amount was reduced and Cao was allowed to leave the hospital, but she remains in jeopardy.
Hu Jia, Jianli County, Hubei Province. June 19, 2012. China’s Southern Metropolis Daily reported that Hu Jia was forcibly aborted at nearly eight months. This case was reported by a major Chinese newspaper, indicating the growing discontent with the policy inside China and the courage of the Chinese news media to report it.
Chen Guangcheng. Not only are women oppressed, but so are those who try to defend them. Blind activist lawyer Chen Guangcheng exposed the widespread and systematic use of forced abortions and involuntary sterilizations in Linyi County in 2005. The Chinese Communist Party imprisoned Chen for four years and three months. They then kept him and his family under strict house arrest from September, 2010 until his dramatic escape. Chen arrived in the United States on May 19, 2012.
Catastrophic Financial Penalties. Forced abortion and sterilization are not the only way that the One Child Policy devastates families. The often excessive fines paid by couples to save an “out of plan” pregnancy are used to line the pockets of family planning and other officials. These fines can reach up to ten times a person’s annual salary. Job loss is another form of financial coercion and can be catastrophic. In March 2012, the head of the Chemistry Department at Renmin University in Beijing jumped to his death because he was accused of having a second child and threatened with being “discharged from public employment.” Meanwhile, officials are promoted or demoted based on whether they meet birth, abortion and sterilization quotas.
European Parliament. In a striking blow against China’s One Child Policy, the European Parliament passed a resolution strongly condemning forced abortion and involuntary sterilization in China and globally, citing Feng Jianmei. Specifically, the resolution, 2012/2712 (RSP) “strongly condemns the decision to force Ms. Feng to have an abortion and condemns the practice of forced abortions and sterilizations globally, especially in the context of the one-child policy.” The resolution further states that “the EU has provided, and still provides, funds for organizations involved in family planning policies in China,” and “urges the Commission to ensure that its funding of projects does not breach” the European Parliament’s commitment against coercive population control.
UNFPA and IPPF. It is significant that the European Parliament has acknowledged that it provides funding for family planning in China. For decades, the UNFPA and International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) have worked hand in hand with the Chinese population control machine, which is coercive. They are funded by many nations, not only in Europe but the world over, including the United States. WRWF has no doubt that any unbiased investigation by the European Parliament or any other governmental body will reveal that these organizations are complicit with coercive family planning in China.
Chinese Group Calls for Abolition of One Child Policy. In the wake of the case of Feng Jianmei, a prominent group of scholars has criticized the policy on the basis that it violates human rights and works against economic stability. Fifteen brave intellectuals signed an open letter urging that re-writing of family planning law was “imperative.” One of their leaders, well-known Internet entrepreneur James Liang, called for the abolition of the one-child rule.
Below my signature are links to our video and petition to stop forced abortion in China.
President Hu, you are in a unique position to stop this violence. As you prepare to leave office later this year, may the end of the One Child Policy be your legacy to the Chinese people.
Reggie Littlejohn, President
Women’s Rights Without Frontiers
Stop Forced Abortion – China’s War on Women! (49,000 views)
Petition to stop forced abortion in China (21,000 signatures)