In the Washington Post (Feb. 26. 1989), Dr. Blake Kerr reported on China’s program of coerced abortion, sterilization and infanticide in Tibet. Dr. Kerr was in Tibet during the fall 1987 to help organize a U.S.-Tibet medical expedition.
While there he met a woman who said that her baby had been killed by a lethal injection and that she herself had been sterilized against her will at Lhasa’s People’s Hospital. Kerr was haunted by her story.
Last fall he visited Tibetan exile communities in India to interview recent refugees. They gave detailed accounts of forced abortion, sterilization and infanticide.
Birth control teams, both mobile and in hospitals, get monetary incentives to sterilize and abort as many women as possible.
A Tibetan doctor, who worked in a Chinese hospital in Amdo, told Dr. Kerr the following story: “There are two types of Chinese birth-control teams, one in the hospitals and another that goes from village to village. Both teams have a monetary incentive to do abortions and sterilizations on as many women as possible. The more names the Chinese doctors collect, the more money they got from their government, and from the women who are charged between 100 and 200 yuan (six months salary) per operation.”
Three women interviewed by Kerr described how a relative or acquaintance of theirs had delivered a normal baby, only to have the nurse kill it with a lethal injection in the soft spot on the forehead.
Refugee Buddhist monks Ngawang Smania and Twewang Thonden told Dr. Kerr, “In the autumn of 1987, a Chinese birth-control team set up their tent next to our monastery in Amdo. The villagers were informed that all women had to report o the tent for abortions and sterilizations or there would be grave con-sequences. For the women who went peacefully to the tents and did not resist, medical care was given. The women who refused were taken by force, operated on, and no medical care was given. Women nine months pregnant had their babies removed.
During the two weeks the birth-control tent stood in the village, the monks claimed that all pregnant women had abortions followed by sterilization, and every woman of childbearing age was sterilized. “We saw many girls crying, heard their screams as they waited for their turn to go into the tent, and saw the growing pile of fetuses build outside the tent, which smelled horrible.”
The birth-control teams were initiated in 1982, but since 1987 there has been a tremendous increase in the number and frequency of the teams that move from town to town and to nomad areas.”
Tibetans are told they should have one child, although it is legal to have two. Women must wait four years after the birth of their first child to have a second; if they do not, they are forced to have an abortion. Those who agree to be sterilized receive praise and rewards. Kerr tells of sanctions against families who dare to have more than two children-fines levied, possessions confiscated, workers demoted. Third children have no legal rights—they cannot obtain ration cards, go to school, work, travel, or own property.