September 19, 2005

China sacks officials over forced abortions

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has sacked and detained officials
in the east of the country for forcing pregnant women to
undergo abortions or sterilizing couples with more than two
children, state media said, after an activist exposed the

The dismissals and detentions appeared to be in line with
Communist Party chief and President Hu Jintao's push to instill
greater official accountability since he assumed power in 2002.

Yu Xuejun, spokesman for the National Population and Family
Planning Commission, said the investigation into reports of
forced abortions and sterilizations by local family planning
officials in Linyi city, Shandong province, began this year.

"Initial investigation indicates illegal family planning
practices that violate people's legal rights and interests do
exist," the official Xinhua news agency quoted Yu as saying in
a report late on Monday.

The rare admission of official wrongdoing came after a
blind activist, Chen Guangcheng, filed a lawsuit against Linyi
officials, accusing them of forcing couples with two children
to be sterilized and forcing women pregnant with a third child
to undergo abortions.

Officials also were accused of detaining and beating up
family members of couples who fled to avoid the forced

"Those who are responsible have been dismissed from duty.
Some are under investigation, some in detention," Yu said
without giving a figure for officials sacked or detained.
Further measures will be taken, Xinhua said without

Yu urged commission staff to learn a lesson from the case
and "correct any infringements on citizens' rights."

President Hu has championed the poor as part of a campaign
to ease tensions between corrupt officials and ordinary people,
avert unrest and perpetuate the Communist Party's decades-old
monopoly on power.

Chinese have become increasingly aware of their legal
rights, including those at the grassroots level in recent