Media group from Indonesia and Malaysia given full picture of Xinjiang’s de-extremism measures

By Liu Xin in Hotan Source:Global Times Published: 2019/2/28 17:21:50 Last Updated: 2019/3/1 1:52:08

Centers prevent residents falling victim to extremism: principal


A reporter from Indonesia takes pictures with residents in a village in Atux of the Kizilsu Kirgiz Autonomous Prefecture, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region on Sunday. Photo: Liu Xin/GT

A media group from Indonesia and Malaysia visited Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region over the week. During the trip, they came to various re-education centers and mosques and got a full picture of the region's counter-terrorism and de-extremism measures as well as religious protection policies.

A total of 11 reporters from the two countries started the trip in Urumqi on February 22 and visited the Kizilsu Kirgiz Autonomous Prefecture, Kashi and Hotan in the following days. 

They visited vocational training centers in different places and talked to trainees about how they came to the centers, their study life there, when they would graduate and their families' attitude toward the centers.

Nuramina Tursun, 24, from a training center in Kashi, shared her story with reporters.

Tursun said that she came across some videos which promoted terrorism and extremism when browsing overseas websites.

"After that I usually searched for videos on overseas websites which promoted jihad and other extremism and terrorism ideas. Gradually, I changed into another person," she said.

"I began sending messages to my friends, asking them not to have any contact with non-Muslims… I quarreled with my friends who spoke to non-Muslims in the street and I even beat my brother's friends when they were invited to the house… Deep in my heart, it was like I had killed heretics a thousand times," Tursun said.

Tursun's changes worried her family members and they sought help from a village official.

"The village official introduced me to the national laws and regulations, as well as behavior of being influenced by extremism, and I found that my previous behavior violated the laws. So I applied to go to the center," Tursun said.

She said that she now realized that if she had not come to the center, she might have become a terrorist under the influence of extremism, which would not only destroy herself but the whole family.

Paher Tursun, 36, a trainee in a training center in Shule county, told reporters from the group that he went to the center because he sent videos which promote terrorism and extremism to friends.

"I am not a Muslim but I used to send extremist videos to my friends. One of my friends reported my situation to the police who later talked to me about my violation of laws," Paher Tursun said, noting that he is now grateful for his friends stopping him from going further astray.

According to China's Anti-Terrorism Law, enacted in 2016, it is illegal to watch and spread video and audio which promotes terrorism. 

Xinjiang has also issued a regional regulation on de-extremism which lists 16 behaviors as extremism, including promoting extremism, forcing others to believe in a certain religion as well as downloading and spreading video and audio which has extremism contents.

Mijti Mermoti, principal of the training center in Kashi, told reporters that "establishing training centers in Kashi could prevent extremist and terrorist activities before they happen and it also avoids these trainees becoming the victim of extremism and terrorism."

The media group visited dormitories, canteens and entertainment rooms in different centers.

Life in the centers

Memeti Aili Erken learns to fix electric facilities in the Shule training center in Xinjiang. Photo: Liu Xin/GT



When talking about his previous life under extremism, Memeti Aili Erken's eyes become red with tears. Being influenced by pan-Islamism, he refused to send his two children to school and when his wife argued with him, he beat her.

Erken has changed a lot now and is learning knowledge on fixing electric facilities in the Shule training center and he started to share housework and take care of the children when come home every week.

"My wife is happy to see my changes and my family is in harmony now. I am studying hard in the center to get graduation early and want to find a job to earn a better life for my family," he said.

Reporters from the group also paid attention to the trainees' daily life in these centers.

Nuramina Tursun told reporters that aside from learning the national standard language, national laws and regulation, she also continued her childhood interest in drawing by taking the clothes design classes. The notebook placed on her table has her hand-drawn sketches of some clothes. 

She said that she can leave the center once she passes the language and law tests as well as having enough vocational skills for employment.

Paher Tursun wants to expand his online business of selling second-hand cars online by using the e-commerce knowledge in the center. 

In response to questions from Indonesian reporter Zulfiani Lubis' question on whether the trainees can do religious practice in the centers, Paher Tursun told her that according to China's laws, nobody should do religious practice in non-religious areas, including in schools.

The media group visited dormitories, canteens and entertainment rooms in different centers.

Rahimy Bin A Rahim from Malaysia told the Global Times that before visiting the training centers, he learned from other media that trainees were mistreated, but he saw in these centers that they are in good health and have the freedom to do what they want.

Yohana Margaretha from Indonesia said that she was impressed by many of the trainees' stories and the facilities in these centers are good.

"I believe that the Chinese government has offered good conditions for the trainees to learn and live in these centers," she said.

Exchanging experiences

Extremism and terrorism also pose threats to Indonesia and Malaysia, and the two countries are also exploring ways on de-extremism, reporters from the foreign media group said.

Asmaliza Binti Mansor from Malaysia told the Global Times that in facing terrorism and extremism, every country has the right to take their own measures. 

"Offering vocational skills to people is a good way, especially for young people who have been influenced by extremism, to have a new start," she said.

Nugroho Fery Yudho from Indonesia told the Global Times that some terrorists in Indonesia committed suicide bombing and the most distressing part was that they even forced their wives and children to do so.

"We have religious groups come to lecture believers, especially the youth, to make sure that they have the right understanding on religion," he said.

He noted that the government is also exploring ways to prevent extremism in its early stage. 

"I admire the Chinese government's courage to explore its own way on de-extremism… Some countries rely on international organizations or other countries for de-extremism, which seemed to achieve little," Nugroho Fery Yudho said.

Echoing Yudho, Yohana Margaretha said that the most important measure of counter-terrorism is to prevent terrorism before terrorist attacks happen. 

"China has made its efforts with de-extremism. The Chinese government as well as our government should adapt to new ways of dealing with terrorism and extremism as they might as well change with the times," she said.

The media group also visited many mosques during their trip in Xinjiang, including the Eidgah Mosque in Kashi, two villages in Shule county and Hotan respectively.

Many reporters expressed their surprise and admiration for the local governments' efforts in updating the infrastructure in the mosques.
Newspaper headline: Foreign media view Xinjiang de-extremism


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