Former Xinjiang trainees appear in person to refute organ harvest rumors

▲A group of journalists from 24 countries visit a vocational education and training center in Moyu County, northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, July 20, 2019. (Photo: Xinhua)


Former trainees from many places in China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region appeared at a press conference on Thursday, sharing stories of how their lives have improved after receiving vocational and education training, and refuting rumors of them “being mistreated” or “having their organs harvested” in the centers.

Nurmangul Wublkasm from Hotan Prefecture in Xinjiang, who is director of the Women’s Committee of Yaouqialeke village, said at the press conference that as a trainee who has graduated from the vocational education and training center in Hotan, she has the right to speak on what a training center is really like.

According to Nurmangul, the training center in Hotan has many classrooms, which are bright and spacious, and have been equipped with advanced teaching facilities. Their dormitories also have air conditioners and televisions.

“We had six classes every day from Monday to Friday to learn laws and regulations, the nation’s common language [Putonghua], vocational skills and de-radicalization education. We can contact family members and friends and enjoy weekends and other national holidays,” Nurmangul told the conference. 

In response to some Western media’s reports on trainees’ kidneys being “harvested” and female trainees being “sterilized” or “shaved,” Nurmangul said these are “totally rumors.”

“I have never had my kidney taken and I am in good health. These media outlets have never visited the training centers, nor did they have face-to-face communications with us, how did they make these rumors? It’s ridiculous!” 

Another trainee, who is also from Hotan, shared his stories of how he got rid of extremist views with the help of the training center. 

Metursun Memet said that he used to sell fruit in the temporary markets of Hotan villages and had a happy family life. Then he happened to come in contact with a group of people who gave him a book with distorted doctrines of Islam and kept telling him “not to do business with Han people and keep distance with non-Muslims.” 

They also claimed that we should drive away heretics by invoking jihad, and that only in this way can we enter into heaven, Metursun said, noting that he was brainwashed by these people and began living by distorted doctrines.

“I banned my wife from listening to music or dancing. I even refused to eat food my mother made because she did not pray five times a day, nor did I visit her for more than a year… my family and friends became afraid of me,” Metursun said. 

He continued that after entering the training center, he learned laws and regulations and knowledge about religious policies.

Islam is teaching us to be kind, peaceful and rightful, while those religious extremists are making nonsense – coaxing us to become enemies with non-Muslims or invoking jihad, Metursun said. 

“I now understand that these extremists were using us as guns, making us have troubles with other ethnic groups in our country, making us hate each other to achieve their malicious purpose… if I had not been in the training center, I may have become a terrorist… I feel remorse for my ignorance,” he said.

When referring to questions on whether their rights on religion have been fully protected, Mirzat Taleti from Aksu Prefecture in the Xinjiang region shared his opinions at the Thursday press conference. 

“To me, the training center is like a boarding school and the trainee-friendly management makes it a home to us. The school never restricted our freedom, and we can contact our family and go home on weekends and holidays,” Mirzat said.

Mirzat said their religious freedom had been protected. “Training centers are schools that should not have any religious activities. But we can go home on weekends,” he said, noting that they can pray at home or go to mosques to listen to the Imam’s lectures on Koran. 

“No one has interfered with us. Those who said our rights to our religion, cultures and languages have been stripped are telling lies. I would like to invite people around the world to visit Xinjiang to take a look and talk to us to know the truth,” Mirzat said.

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