Population Planning Official Confirms Abuses in Linyi City, Shandong Province
Dr. Yu Xuejun, a spokesman for the National Population and Family Planning Commission (NPFPC), acknowledged reports of abuses by local population planning officials in Linyi city, Shandong province, according to the September 20 edition of the China Daily and the NPFPC's Web site.
Dr. Yu Xuejun, a spokesman for the National Population and Family Planning Commission (NPFPC), acknowledged reports of abuses by local population planning officials in Linyi city, Shandong province, according to the September 20 edition of the China Daily and the NPFPC's Web site. Dr. Yu also confirmed that the government had dismissed and detained some of the responsible officials. Yu's statement said, "some persons did commit practices that violated [the] law and infringed upon legitimate rights and interests of citizens while conducting family planning work. Currently the responsible persons have been removed from their posts. Some of them are being investigated for liabilities and some have been detained. Competent authorities will further address the issue in line with their statutory mandates and procedures. NPFPC has required staff members of the population and family planning sector to learn lessons and draw inferences from this case." Dr. Yu neither identified the officials nor their offenses.
Dr. Yu's statement did not mention Chen Guangcheng, a lawyer who brought international news media attention to the abuses in Linyi. In the spring of 2005, Chen began collecting tape-recorded testimony of people abused by Linyi population planning officials, particularly of women forced to undergo abortions and sterilization. In September, Chen discussed his plans to file a lawsuit with diplomats, legal experts, and foreign journalists, including writers from the Washington Post, Time, and the Times of London. On September 6, Shandong officials abducted Chen from the streets of Beijing and placed him under house arrest in Linyi, which drew additional international news media attention to the abuses in Linyi.
National population planning policy requires women to secure "birth permits" before becoming pregnant and limits most urban women to one child. Chinese law allows severe economic sanctions to coerce women found pregnant without a "birth permit" into having an abortion and being sterilized. Officials sometimes use force to coerce compliance, in violation of Article 39 of China's National Family Planning Law. Abuses against pregnant women and their families have been well documented since 1985. But the NPFPC official's statement may be the first time that the Chinese government has confirmed a specific set of reports of such abuses. Article 39 of the National Family Planning Law, as revised in 2002, provides for criminal liability for population planning officials who abuse their power.