Former trainees at the vocational education and training centers in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region attended a press conference in Urumqi on Wednesday, speaking of how badly they had been influenced by extremism and how they got rid of it and tried to get their life back through attending the training. They also debunked lies made by some Western media on being "forced" to pick up cotton.
A former trainee named Memetnyaz Iminnyaz, who is from Shache county of Kashi Prefecture in southern Xinjiang, said he used to get acquainted with some religious extremists in the business circle and be influenced by extremism.
"I began to repel people from other ethnic groups and non-Muslims… forbade my wife from working and even hit her … At the request of my family, I went to the training center where I got to know how religious extremism poisoned us," Memetnyaz said.
He said that without going to the training centers, he might have fallen into crime.
In response to the lies made by some anti-China forces that said trainees had been forced to work in factories or pick up cotton by hand, Memetnyaz said "This is sheer nonsense!"
"We have never heard of people being forced to pick up cotton when they were in or after graduating from the training centers. With such advanced technology, manually picking cotton is not necessary. I don't know how this was fabricated," he said.
Wenira Abduwali from Bachu county of Kashi also refuted rumors of trainees being "tortured."
"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 I have been abused? If my liver and kidney were removed, would I have the strength to build such a happy family? Can I still be like this cheerily communicating with you guys? Do not tell lies any more, please!"