Twitter has removed a tweet by the Chinese embassy in Washington that claimed Uighur women had been “emancipated” by the Chinese Communist Party’s anti-extremist policies in the Xinjiang region—where an estimated 1 million members of the Turkic Muslim minority are being detained in prison-like “re-education” centres.
The tweet, which was taken down over the weekend following criticism from tens of thousands of Twitter users, also suggested that Uighur women were “baby-making machines”, paraphrasing an article in state-run newspaper China Daily that claimed that “decreases in [Xinjiang’s] birth-rate and natural population growth rate” were the result of “the eradication of religious extremism”.
“Studies show that in the process of eradicating extremism, the minds of Uyghur women in Xinjiang were emancipated and gender equality and reproductive health were promoted, making them no longer baby-making machines,” the Chinese embassy tweet read. “They are more confident and independent.”
Last year, an investigation by the Associated Press found that the Chinese government, in an attempt to to curb birth rates and population among Uighurs and other minorities, forced large numbers of women in Xinjiang to undergo sterilization and abortion procedures. Police raided the homes of Uighur men and women, and those who were found to have three or more children were sent to detention camps unless they paid huge fines.
Following interviews with 30 ex-detainees, family members and a former detention camp instructor, the Associated Press observed what they described as a “climate of terror around having children,” and cited statistics showing that birth rates in Xinjiang plunged 24 percent in 2019, compared to just 4.2 percent nationwide. Some experts have labelled the population control measures a form of “demographic genocide.”
Twitter declared that the Chinese embassy tweet “violated the Twitter rules”, but did not provide further details. It comes just days after the social media company permanently banned U.S. President Donald Trump from the platform, citing the “risk of further incitement of violence”, following raids on the U.S. Capitol last week.
Follow Gavin on Twitter