Uygurs recount how training centers changed their lives

I. Some Uygurs released from "detention camp" were forced to take up cotton picking as their job, as per reports in foreign media. Is it true?

Answer: My name is Mamatniyaz Iminniyazi. I used to be a trainee in the Vocational Education and Training Center of Shache county in Kashgar prefecture.

In the past, I came under the influence of some religious extremists in the business cycle and they filled me with extreme ideas. Consequently, I began to avoid Han people gradually with the false belief that I should never do business with Han people because their commodities were not halal. Worse, I forbade my wife to work outside the home. When my wife showed any protest, I would beat or curse her. In January 2018, at the request of my family, I went to the vocational education and training center and took part in training.

In the vocational education and training center, we mainly learned Mandarin, law, vocational skills, and some courses which help us to get rid of extreme ideas. Through the training and learning, I got to understand what Islam really means, and that the religious extremists are poisons to us. I got to understand that it is an illegal behavior to bully my wife and restrict her freedom. If I had not been trained in the vocational education and training center, I would have been poisoned by the religious extremist ideas and fall into the abyss of crime. At the thought of this, I feel scared and as well regret my past behavior.

In the vocational education and training center, we could choose one or two vocational skills to learn based on our interest. I chose naan cooking skill and my friends also chose their favorite skills to learn. Some of them chose electronic business, some cooking, and some others beauty and hairdressing. In the vocational education and training center, my classmates and I learned vocational skills and also developed a friendly relationship with each other. We have remained in touch with each other frequently.

After graduating from the center, taking advantage of my naan cooking skills learned at the vocational education and training center, I opened a naan co-op with 25 workers. Within one year I earned over 100,000 yuan. At the beginning of last year, I established a purified water company. At present, the building area of our company amounts to 1,800 square meters and over 20 employees are working in our company. Now over 40,000 buckets of purified water are produced in our company every day and my yearly income has reached 300,000 yuan. After graduation, my classmates also found stable jobs with the skills learned at the vocational education and training center. Some of them have taken up dancing in the art troupe, some are working in a garment factory, some have established their own business, some have entered the restaurant business, and some have opened an auto repairing store. All of them are enjoying a good life.

Those people abroad label the vocational education and training center as "detention camp", claiming that "some of the released from 'detention camp' were forced to take up cotton picking as their job". This is sheer nonsense! The vocational education and training center is a school which aims to help us get rid of the control of the religious extremist ideas. It has nothing to do with the so-called "detention camp". In our country, we fully enjoy the freedom to choose our own job. No one has ever forced us to do anything. We have never heard of the news that some people were forced to take up cotton picking as their job after their graduation from the vocational education and training center. Today, with such advanced technology, cotton picking hands are not needed in large quantity. I don't know how this falsification was fabricated.

II. Some overseas media and institutions claim that forced labor is used as a means to get rid of extremist ideas in the vocational education and training center and that the trainees are forced to work in factories as cheap and free labor. I would like to ask the graduate trainees, have you ever been forced to work in the vocational education and training center?

Answer: My name is Alimjan Mamatali. I am 28 years old. I graduated from the vocational education and training center in Hotan city, Hotan prefecture. Now I am working in a real estate company.

According to some overseas media and institution, in the vocational education and training center we are forced to work in factories as cheap and free labor. This is sheer falsification and slander. As a graduate trainee, I'm very clear about what is going in the vocational education and training center. I took part in the training in the vocational education and training center of Hotan city. During my training, no one ever forced us to do anything.

In the vocational education and training center, from Monday to Friday, we have six hours of classes every day, mainly learning Mandarin, law, vocational skills, and some courses which help us to get rid of extreme ideas. During weekends and official holidays we can contact our family through phone calls. We can ask for a leave any time if necessary. We have got a colorful leisure life at school. There are libraries, recreation rooms and classes based on our interest at the center. We often hold basketball games, badminton matches, recreational parties and so on.

In the vocational education and training center, we learned about the Constitution, criminal law, anti-terrorism law, religious affair regulations, etc. What we were learning taught us what is legal and what is illegal and what we can do and what we can't do. Through learning, we came to understand the hideous and ugly essence of those religious extremists who deliberately schemed to turn us into a brutal and murderous demon, coercing us to commit crime at the cost of our lives. We visited an anti-terror photo exhibition and learned various atrocities committed by the terrorists, feeling grateful that we had become the trainees in the vocational education and training center which prevented us from traveling on the wrong track and from meeting a dead end. In the vocational education and training center, we were never forced to work in the factory.

In the vocational education and training center, the training courses such as computer, animal husbandry and breeding, beauty and hairdressing, sewing, electronic business, and business management, etc. were launched and some practical training courses were also offered. We could choose the subjects to learn according to our own interest. Since I like computers very much, I chose the subject of computer. This subject involves theory courses and practical training class. I learned some basic computer knowledge first and then began to practice operating computers. Through the training, I learned how to use Word, Excel to edit document and were able to use certain software to edit pictures and design visiting card and advertisement. After I graduated, it was thanks to what I learned at the vocational education and training center that I successfully found a job in the job fair held in Hotan city.

Some ill-intentioned people maliciously consider our practical training class as a means of cheap or free labor. What a ridiculous falsification! At present, I am doing a stable work and my salary is over 3,000 yuan. I'm very satisfied with my present life.

III. According to some foreign media, the vocational education and training center in Xinjiang is a "concentration camp", the people there suffer maltreatment, sexual assault, and even removal of liver and kidney, and some people who have undergone training in the vocational education and training center but are now living abroad, also claim that they were badly treated in the "concentration camp". Is their accusation credible? What do you think of the vocational education and training center?

Answer: My name is Wenira Abduwali, I'm from Bachu county in Kashgar prefecture, I'm now a white-collar worker in a company. I love my job very much and I have a happy family. Who can imagine that I was once influenced by religious extremism, taking the wrong path. It was the vocational education and training center that saved me and gave me new chance to lead a normal life.

In the past, some villagers influenced me with religious extremism, they said that "Muslims are not allowed to watch TV or listen to radio, because TV and radio are not halal", "Han people are pagans, the products they made are not halal", "Muslims cannot dance or sing in weddings, nor cry in funerals, or they will go to hell". Influenced by religious extremism, I didn't interact with Han students at school, nor did I take part in classmate reunions. I remember that when I attended the wedding of my sister, I tried very hard to stop her singing and dancing, but she didn't obey me and so I left the wedding and cut all ties with her. My family was sad about me and they persuaded me to go study in the vocational education and training center in Bachu county.

Vocational education and training center is a school with free charge of training fee and accommodation. It provides nutritious meals whole day. The dorms are clean and tidy, the classrooms are bright and big. The school not only provides courses such as national standard written and spoken language, law, vocational skills, deradicalization, but also classes like painting, dancing, music, calligraphy and so on. Everyone can choose one to two courses based on their interest. I chose to learn my favorite, e-commerce, and I also took active part in dancing course. In the center, teachers are like families, taking care of us. Once I got a heavy cold and couldn't go to canteen for meals, my teacher brought me medicine and a bowl of warm sliced noodle soup as soon as he knew my condition. I was deeply moved.

After graduation, I accepted an offer of employment from a company. Since I can speak Mandarin well, know how to do e-commerce, and I'm a good worker, I was soon appreciated by the manager of the company, now I can earn 4000 yuan each month. I am planning to purchase a set of flat by the saving of me and my husband. We want to have a child and give it good education, helping it grow healthily and happily.

Some overseas media smeared and attacked Xinjiang with very ugly and extremely irresponsible words. Look at me, I'm so open minded and happy now, do I look like been abused? If my liver and kidney were removed, do I have strength to build such a happy family? Can I still be like this cheerily communicating with you guys? Do not tell bare-faced lies any more please!

IV. It is learned that those who are sent to vocational education and training centers are generally influenced by religious extremism or have committed minor crimes. Would you please ask some trainees from the centers to talk about how they were influenced by religious extremism? And did they volunteer or were forced to take up training in the center? Did their classmates finish their training and graduate?

Answer: My name is Subinur Mamatimin. I graduated from Yecheng County Vocational Education and Training Center in Kashgar prefecture. At present, I am employed at a local law firm.

My story begins in childhood. When I was in my junior middle school, my neighbor once secretly gave me two books advocating religious extremism, promising me that I would learn something novel after my reading. Out of curiosity, I read the books and found them really quite different from what I had learned from other books and I was fascinated with the two books. Afterwards, the neighbor gave me some more books to read from time to time, frequently inviting me to chat with her at her home. She explained some so-called "religious knowledge". She told me that life in "heaven" was so wonderful that there was much more money than I could spend, many more delicacies than I could enjoy, much more gorgeous dress than I could wear, and many more servants around us……I could get anything I wanted. I was so convinced what she told me that I was so eager to go to "heaven". After I was admitted by a technical secondary school, I began to visit some foreign websites advocating religious extremism, considering how to kill some "kafirs" so as to be admitted by heaven. In those days, I tried to learn something detailed intentionally about the terrorist attacks in China as soon as they happened and considered those terrorists "heroes". After Kunming train station terrorist attack happened, I learned from news report that there was a Uygur girl, even younger than me, among those terrorists. I regarded the girl as my "idol" and imagined one day I would declare a war against those "kafirs".

After being brainwashed by religious extremism, I became very radical. In daily life, I was determined not to buy anything produced by other ethnic groups or non-Muslims, including clothes and cosmetic. I even asked my family and friends to do as I did to boycott commodities from "kafirs". I threatened to break off all relations with them if they did not follow me. Once a friend of mine held a birthday party and invited me to dine at a restaurant. When I got there, I opened the door and found many of them smoking and drinking. I was so angry that I smashed the wine bottle and slammed the door and left. Seeing my behavior, my family and friends all worried about me. The persuaded me and sent me to the County Vocational Education and Training Center to join the education.

During the days in the center, I was taught about the Constitution, criminal law, marriage law, counterterrorism law and so on. I realized my mistakes and was determined to stay away from religious extremism so as to return to my parents, relatives and friends. I must regain my regular work and life. With the help of the teachers and classmates at the center, I turned to become bright and cheerful, being optimistic and full of vigor and vitality. Meanwhile, I've masterly grasped computer skills. Later, I graduated with all my classmates. Thanks to the computer knowledge and law at the center, I found a job in a law firm of the county, earning 4,500 yuan per month. Now I enjoy a full and happy life. In my heart, I owe my joyful life to the center, where I returned to the right side of my life and regained a new life.

VI. Some foreign media and establishments claim that some Muslims in Xinjiang were forced to be sent to vocational education and training centers just because they broke the family planning policy; they also said female trainees in the centers were forced to be injected with unknown drugs or be fitted with IUCD, meaning an on-going compulsory sterilization. Is this true?

Answer: My name is Rozigul Ablimit. I graduated from Aksu Vocational Education and Training Center. Now I run my own store in Aksu city.

I was born in an average family in the city. I liked beautiful dress when I was young. So, I once was employed in a clothes store in charge of selling and purchasing. I got to know some clients and they showed me some audio and video on violent terrorism to view. Influenced by religious extremists, I did not focus on working on my business. Soon I quit and stayed at home all day and night and did not go to work and make living. I did not contact any neighbors of Han ethnics, filling my brain with religious extremism and asked my parents to support me as soon as I ran out of money.

My parents were very worried about me and did their best to convince me and encourage me to go to vocational education and training center. During the training days there, I never found a person sent there for breaking family planning policy, nor did I hear any person was given compulsory sterilization. After graduating from the center, I opened a clothes store in a mall in Aksu city and began earning more than 5,000 yuan in the first month. I bought my parents new dress at once and they were so deeply moved that they repeated the filial daughter they were proud of before has come back now. In October last year, I got married and I am supposed to have two children in line with the family planning policy. Now my husband and I are preparing to give birth to our first baby. So I went to hospital to have a pregnancy test lately. The doctor told me I was very healthy enough to give birth to a healthy baby.

Today I present my story here to confirm those foreign media what I experienced and tell them not to cheat the public and themselves disregarding facts.

VI. According to the White Book of Vocational Education and Training in Xinjiang, the vocational education and training center deliver a curriculum that includes standard spoken and written Chinese, understanding of the law, vocational skills, and deradicalization. Can you invite some graduated trainees to talk about what they learned from the curriculum? How the knowledge and skills they learned at the center help them?

Answer: My name is Mamat Mollarozi. I'm 35 years old. Irun two restaurants in Aksu city.

In 2015, I opened an eatery and got to know some religious extremists, who told me my house I had built was paid by the government so it was "haram", the money the government gave me was "haram", all the daily necessities manufactured by enterprises from other provinces were "haram", and all the Han ethnics were "kafir". Afterwards, I believed what they told me and felt hatred for Han ethnics. I began to refuse to communicate with Han ethnics, unwilling to welcome Han customers and offered them bad services when they patronize. Soon after, less and less customers came to my restaurant and I had to close it. Influenced by religious extremism, I developed an isolated character and my behavior became very extreme. I was not a normal myself anymore and my relatives and friends were so sacred they avoided to meet me.

In September 2017, I was persuaded by my family members to receive education and training at the vocational education and training center. There, I made great progress in standard spoken and written Mandarin, meanwhile I improved how to tell right from wrong and figured out what behavior is legal and what behavior is illegal. I also took training course in accordance with my interest and joined in chef train class. With the patient training of teachers, I made great progress in cooking and learned how to cook some new dishes.

After graduation, I wanted to open a new restaurant although I could not find a suitable place for restaurant. So I told the community my plan of entrepreneurship. They supported me and helped me find a place, 290 m2, and lowered the rent. On Dec 20, 2019, I held an opening ceremony for my restaurant and many diners came and praised my cooking much better than before. Now I often welcome Han ethnics in Mandarin and listen to their comment on my cooking. At present, I have 55 employees and generate 500,000 yuan revenue per month. My net income has reached 450,000 yuan annually, which is beyond my imagination.

As a Uygur saying goes: A person who never feels grateful is like an unemotional donkey." I will never forget it is the center that saves me and teaches me vocational skills and the community that helped me realize my entrepreneurship. From now on I will pay great effort to work and lead my employees to expand my business in Urumqi and even in Beijing, having more people enjoy Xinjiang delicacies.

VII. It is said some trainees from vocational education and training center began to start up their own business after graduation, setting up a company or opening a restaurant, or becoming an employer of a firm. Did they encounter difficulty in the entrepreneurship? And how did they overcome the difficulty and how about their present situation?

Answer: My name is Nurmamat Tohtiniyaz,aged 31. I an an owner of a rural tourism resort in Wensu county, Aksu prefecture.

Influenced by religious extremism in college, I often skipped lessons and was keen on illegal religious activities and rites, and even organize classmates to pray in public. My teachers dissuaded me from it many times while I persisted in it and soon I was expelled from school.

When I returned home, my mother was pained to see so and persuaded me to join the center. In the training days, I acquired the techniques of fruit tree planting and pruning. After returning home, I applied what I had learned at the center and took care of the fruit garden of my family. Soon my neighbors all came to visit me for learning techniques. Some fruit tree planters even were willing to pay me for pruning and teaching them techniques. Therefore, I found it easy to make a living of 30,000 yuan per year.

Close to resort, my village witnessed many people came to enjoy agritainment in recent years. In 2019, the village committee encouraged me to start up a business of rural tourism for increasing villagers' income. Both catering and fruit selling can benefit us. I figured out the precious chance and was worried about the investment for start-up. The village committee learned about my worries and visited local banks many times for loaning me 30,000 yuan free of interest. They also helped me apply business license before the start. Now my business develops well and many visitors come to consume here. So the committee found 4 employees for expanding my business. One year later, I made more than 100,000 yuan from the fruit garden and tourism. In the end of 2019, I bought TV set, refrigerator, washing machine and other appliances, and bought myself a new mobile phone.

Influenced by the epidemic in 2020, it became difficult to sell the apples harvested in the garden. Again it was the village committee that advertised for us and contacted companies to purchase our fruits. They found market and employed professionals to teach us how to sell on line, which facilitated us and made fruit business easier than before.

My hometown is at the foot of Mount Tomur, welcome to my hometown this harvest season and taste our fruits and melons, visiting my rural tourism and try my cooking.