China is forcibly carrying out mass sterilisation of women from Uighur Muslim and other ethnic minority groups in Xinjiang, according to a report by a German researcher published on Monday. The report, published at a time when the country is facing global backlash for its treatment of minority groups, has triggered calls for investigation into human rights violations by the Chinese government.

The report has been published by Adrian Zenz, who is one of the world’s leading scholars on People’s Republic of China (PRC) government policies towards Tibet and Xinjiang. His research is based on government data, policy documents and interviews of ethnic women.

In his report, Zenz claimed that Chinese officials were threatening to send Uighur women and other ethnic minorities to detention camps for refusing to abort pregnancies exceeding birth quotas. Zenz added that women who had less than two children were forcibly given intrauterine contraceptives. Others were being forced to undergo sterilisation procedures. Women who had earlier been put in detention camps told Zenz that they were given injections and drugs to stop their periods or cause unusual bleeding.

“Intrauterine contraceptive devices, sterilizations, and forced family separations: since a sweeping crackdown starting in late 2016 transformed Xinjiang into a draconian police state, witness accounts of intrusive state interference into reproductive autonomy have become ubiquitous,” Zenz said in his introduction to the report. “While state control over reproduction has long been a common part of the birth control regime in the People’s Republic of China, the situation in Xinjiang has become especially severe following a policy of mass internment initiated in early 2017 by officials of the ruling Chinese Communist Party.”

Zenz’s research found that population growth in Xinjiang fell drastically with the implementation of forced birth control methods. “Natural population growth in Xinjiang has declined dramatically; growth rates fell by 84% in the two largest Uyghur prefectures between 2015 and 2018, and declined further in 2019,” he said. “For 2020, one Uyghur region set an unprecedented near-zero population growth target: a mere 1.05 per mille, compared to an already low 11.45 per mille in 2018. This was intended to be achieved through “family planning work”.”

Zenz added that the findings raise concerns about whether China’s forced suppression of minority population can be characterised as a “demographic campaign of genocide” under United Nations’ definitions.

The report has triggered calls for investigation into human rights violations by the Chinese government. The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, a group comprising of political leaders from North America, Europea and Australia, said the world must not remain silent about China’s atrocities. “Our governments must now support a resolution at the United Nations General Assembly to establish an international, impartial, independent investigation into the situation in Xinjiang,” the group said in a statement.”

The United Nations Human Rights Council, meanwhile, said member countries should immediately respond to calls to investigate China’s human rights record.

The United States asked China to immediately stop its “horrific practices”. “The world received disturbing reports today [Monday] that the Chinese Communist Party is using forced sterilization, forced abortion, and coercive family planning against Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang, as part of a continuing campaign of repression,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement. “German researcher Adrian Zenz’s shocking revelations are sadly consistent with decades of CCP [Chinese Communist Party] practices that demonstrate an utter disregard for the sanctity of human life and basic human dignity. We ask ask all nations to join the United States in demanding an end to these dehumanizing abuses.”