Policeman Weng Honghua dispatched to Maralbeshi County

Verifiability/reliability: Moderate, from a personal account with few posts, but complemented by plenty of photographs. Precise numbers, not estimates, are provided by the author. This article from 2018 confirms that there is an officer named Weng Honghua who works at Guixi City Detention Center, as written in this post.

Like the preceding two posts, the following is an account published on WeChat by a relatively senior officer, Weng Honghua, who was sent to Maralbeshi County Detention Center in Xinjiang for three months to assist in managing a detention center inundated with detainees in 2017 ("about 3695" in a facility designed for 1000). That detention center was the site of a terrorist attack several years prior, and, notably, is staffed mostly by Uyghurs (which is probably true of most detention facilities in the county and across southern Xinjiang, an overwhelmingly Uyghur area). His account is similar to the other officers': first, talk about how important the policy is; then, talk about how hard it is to be in Xinjiang, and how grueling the work is; and finally, talk about how proud you are to have done the work now that you've returned.

Thanks to Quinton Huang (@relentlessqwert) for his excellent work translating this piece. Not all images in the original post are shown.

援疆助训 从警无悔 ——援疆助训之感想

Assisting Xinjiang Aid police training, taking up the policeman’s mantle without regret— Reflections on Xinjiang Aid and the police training program

我叫翁红华,1968年10月12日出生,中共党员,江西省贵溪市看守所副所长,作为一名人民警察,有一份使命,那就是敢于担当,关键时刻敢于发声亮剑。4月18日,当我收到江西省公安厅转发的公安部《内地与新疆公安机关反暴恐互助训练计划实施方案》的通知,我第一时间主动请缨援疆,经过党组织审核批准,我有幸参加此次援疆轮训,我倍感自豪和荣幸,更感到责任重大,使命光荣。此次内地公安监管民警援疆轮训是公安部党委为提升内地公安监管部门反暴恐能力和危安犯羁押监管工作水平,缓解新疆公安监管部门羁押监管压力作出的重大决策,对于全面提升内地监管民警业务能力,确保公安监所绝对安全,维护反恐维稳工作大局稳定具有十分重要大的意义。现将援疆助训的三个月的工作、生活中的所见、所做、所想概述如下:

My name is Weng Honghua. I was born on October 12, 1968. I am a member of the Communist Party of China and the deputy director of the Guixi City Detention Center in Jiangxi province. As a member of the People’s Police [i.e. the civil police], my mission is to be bold in assuming my duties and to take action at the crucial moments in time. On April 18, I received the Ministry of Public Security notice, “Implementation Plan for the Counterterrorism Mutual Assistance Training Program between inland* and Xinjiang public security institutions”, from the Jiangxi provincial Public Security Bureau. After being inspected and cleared by the Party, I was fortunate enough to participate in this Xinjiang Aid training rotation. I was extremely proud and honored, feeling the significance of this responsibility and the glory of this mission. This Xinjiang Aid training rotation for mainland prison overseers** is an important policy initiative carried out by the Ministry of Public Security in order to improve the counterterrorism capabilities of inland prison overseer departments and their ability to detain and supervise security threats [i.e. those accused of endangering public security], as well as to provide detention and supervision relief to Xinjiang supervision departments. This initiative has great significance for the comprehensive improvement of mainland prison supervision performance, ensuring the absolute security of prisons, and maintaining the general momentum of counterterrorism and stability maintenance activities. Below I present an overview of what I saw and did while working and living for three months in the Xinjiang Aid training assistance rotation, as well as my own thoughts on the experience:

* "Inland" here broadly referring to the much more developed and populated eastern half of China (ironically located closer to the sea), as opposed to Xinjiang, Tibet, Inner Mongolia, Qinghai, etc. ** This term can also be translated as supervisory. As noted in this post, "the role is related to management of detention facilities; they appear somewhat higher ranked than everyday guards, but are still very much involved in the hands-on work, so 'warden' seems inaccurate."

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一、援疆不只是使命,更多的是责任。 2017年4月24日,我带着组织的信任与家人的嘱咐,背负行囊,挥别亲友和同事,踏上了新疆这片陌生而辽阔的土地,开始了为期三个月的援疆轮训生活,通过几天的培训,让我了解到新疆近年来分裂主义、宗教极端主义和恐怖主义这“三股势力”的危害,给新疆当前稳定和发展带来最严重的破坏性;更让我明白公安部作出内地与新疆公安机关反暴恐互助训练计划决定的重要意义,新疆特殊的政治环境、地理位置、资源优势以及发展历史注定了新疆的经济发展关系着祖国的经济发展,新疆的安定团结关系着祖国的安定团结。

I. Aiding Xinjiang is not just a mission, but even more so a responsibility. On April 24, 2017, carrying the trust of my organization and with the exhortations of my family, I took my luggage, waved goodbye to friends, relatives and co-workers, touched down on the unfamiliar and vast land of Xinjiang, and began my three-month Xinjiang Aid training rotation life. Several days of training allowed me to understand the damage wrought by the “three forces” of separatism, religious extremism and terrorism in Xinjiang in recent years and the grave destruction that they brought to Xinjiang’s present stability and development. The training also helped me understand the great importance of the Ministry of Public Security’s decision to organize the Counterterrorism Mutual Assistance Training Program between inland and Xinjiang public security organs. Xinjiang’s unique political environment, geographical position, rich natural resources and developmental history have inevitably made it so that Xinjiang’s economic development is bound to the economic development of the motherland. So too is Xinjiang’s stability and unity bound to the stability and unity of the motherland.

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二、援疆不只是历练,更多的是挑战。 (一)选择了援疆就选择了孤独和吃苦。我一名已经50岁的援疆人,已到知天命的年纪了,当时家中老婆和儿女得知我援疆的消息,多次劝导我放弃援疆,家中有近80岁的老父母亲身体需要照顾;女儿劝导我年纪大了,身体有不好,那边太乱、太危险。经过我多次和家人讲援疆是组织上对我工作的信任,现在新疆形势严峻需要内地警察去支援,一方有难八方援助,家人知道我的坚定信念,最后还是同意我的决定,再三嘱咐一定要注意安全,一定要注意身体,一定要安全回来。新疆喀什地区虽然并不是我们想象中的“茫茫戈壁,寸草不生,缺物少水”,但南疆戈壁的干旱、大漠的风沙、不同的时差造成我们嗓子干痛,嘴唇干裂,皮肤脱皮,鼻子出血等诸多身体的不适;而语言的不通、风俗的不同、饮食的差异则使人有着人在他乡为异客的孤独感;我确实品尝到了苦,这种苦只有自己经历了才知道。

II. Xinjiang Aid is not just learning through experience, but even more so a challenge. 1. To choose to participate in Xinjiang Aid is to choose solitude and hardship. I am fifty years old and thus already cognisant of the limit to my lifespan. When my wife and children found out that I had volunteered to participate in Xinjiang Aid, they attempted to convince me to withdraw numerous times, saying that the health of our old parents reaching 80 years of age needs to be looked after. My daughter tried to convince me that I was too old, that my health was not good, that it was too chaotic and dangerous there. After explaining numerous times that [inviting me to participate in] Xinjiang Aid was a vote of confidence by the higher-ups in my organization, that Xinjiang needed inland police officers to assist in the midst of its grim situation, and that all corners of the country should help when one part encounters trouble, my family knew that I was firmly resolved and finally agreed with my decision. They exhorted me again and again to be safe and take care of my health, and that I had to return home safely. Though Kashgar was not the “boundless Gobi desert without even a blade of grass grow, no supplies, and little water” of our imaginations, the dryness of the Gobi in southern Xinjiang, the desert sandstorms and the time difference nevertheless made our throats hoarse, our lips cracked, our skin fissured, and our noses bleed, along with a host of other maladies. Meanwhile, the language barrier, the cultural differences and the differences in food and drink made us experience the loneliness of foreign guests in a strange land. Indeed, I did taste hardship, a kind of hardship that can only be known through direct experience.

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(二)选择援疆就选择了危险和艰辛。新疆喀什地区巴楚县是新疆恐怖分子、反分裂分子最猖狂最严峻的主战场,也是地震多发重灾区,5月11日刚到巴楚县,临近的塔什库尔干县就发生了5.5级地震、沙尘暴等自然灾害;2013年4.23事件巴楚县派出所15名民警被恐怖分子杀死,两名民警重伤,就是我们此次援疆的目的地,确实非常危险。面对监所羁押3600多名的危安犯的管理,只有8名管教民警,每当面对危安犯那种直直凶猛险恶的眼神,我是江西援疆50名唯一负责管教的民警,每天面对面针对危安犯管理,时时刻刻都面临危险的考验,也害怕过。但是我从没有畏惧和退缩过,当想起4.23事件有15名民警和社区干部被残忍杀害,穷凶极恶的暴徒、倒在血泊里的群众,血淋淋的现实教育了我,但吓不倒我,对群众的同情,对暴徒的仇恨,给了我坚强,也给了我力量。我始终牢记自己是一名老共产党员,是江西省鹰潭市公安局选派来的一名援疆人民警察,祖国在关注着我,组织在关注着我,援疆警察没有完不成的任务,没有战胜不了的困难,援疆助训是为了维护祖国的统一和谐稳定。

2. To choose to participate in Xinjiang Aid is to choose danger and difficulty. Maralbeshi County in Kashgar is the most severe and ferocious battleground for Xinjiang’s terrorists and separatists. It is also an area afflicted by frequent earthquakes. On May 11, having just arrived in Maralbeshi, a 5.5-magnitude earthquake, dust and sandstorms and other natural disasters occurred on our approach to Tashkurgan County. The Maralbeshi County police station where, on April 23, 2013, 15 police officers were killed and two severely wounded by terrorists, was precisely our destination for this rotation of Xinjiang Aid. It was indeed extremely dangerous. Only eight overseer officers were tasked with managing over 3600 security threats detained in the prison, and whenever we faced the stark and ferocious glare of a security threat [a euphemism for behavioral infractions?], I was the only officer of the fifty from Jiangsu who would take charge of discipline; I worked every day, face-to-face managing them, facing a dangerous trial at all times—[at times] I was afraid, but I never cowered. Thinking of the April 23 incident with the 15 police officers and community cadres ruthlessly slaughtered, the terribly vicious and evil thugs, the crowd falling into the pool of blood—this gory reality educated me. But it was not able to intimidate me. My solidarity with the masses and my hatred for those thugs gives me resolve and strength. From beginning to end, I kept in mind that I am a member of the Communist Party of China, and a member of the People’s Police dispatched to Xinjiang Aid by the Public Security Bureau of Yingtan, Jiangxi. The motherland was watching over me. [My] organization [referring to the PSB, or possibly the Party] was watching over me. There is no task unachievable and no challenge insurmountable to a Xinjiang Aid police officer. The Xinjiang Aid training assistance program is for safeguarding the motherland’s unity, harmony and stability.

(三)选择援疆就选择了担当和奉献。新疆监管工作确实很累,不分昼夜通宵工作是常态,没有休息时间,面对危安犯的管理,精神高度紧张,工作压力极大。我始终牢记自己的使命,一名援疆民警肩负的职责,克服困难、坚定信念,在这援疆巴楚看守所90多个日日夜夜工作中,和新疆的民警五加二、白加黑,没日没夜的工作中,克服气候环境、饮食差异、监管压力不适应等诸多困难,振奋精神,勇挑重担,援疆期间我始终充当一名学员的身份跟、看、学、做的实地跟班学习,学习对在押人员进行日常规范教育,对危安犯进行“去极端化”教育转化工作,学习监控、管教、提押提讯岗三岗联动,始终对危安类嫌疑人提审押解做到“头戴套、手带铐、脚带镣”操作规程。我和援疆民警共同协作整理档案5000余份,参与提押提讯7500余人,每天行程约20公里,协同投劳押解3600人,每次押解连续行程4000多公里,20多天我参与连续押解行程约25000公里。发扬了江西井冈山革命老区警察特别能吃苦、特别能战斗、特别守纪律、特别讲奉献的井冈山革命精神,连续作战的工作作风,得到了公安部监管总局、新疆监管总队和江西省公安厅监管总队等领导的高度认可和一致好评。

To choose Xinjiang Aid is to choose responsibility and dedication. Prison supervision work in Xinjiang is of course very tiring. It is normal for us to work day and night without any breaks. In handling security threats, our energy is intensely strained and the stress can be tremendous. From beginning to end, I firmly kept in mind my mission and the responsibilities shouldered by a Xinjiang Aid police officer, overcoming hardships and remaining staunch in my conviction. In my more than 90 days working in the Maralbeshi County Detention Center for Xinjiang Aid, on shift with my Xinjiang police [colleagues] seven days a week, 24 hours a day, I endured the harsh environment, the differences in food and drink, my difficulties with the stresses of prison supervision and other countless challenges. I bucked up my spirits, having courageously chosen this great responsibility. Throughout my time in Xinjiang Aid, as a student, I followed, studied and learned through on-the-ground experience [with my colleagues]. I learned how to educate inmates about rules for everyday life and how to conduct “de-extremification” educational transformation for security threats. I learned about the connections between the three beats of monitoring, disciplining and sending inmates to trial [or, more likely, hearings] and interrogation, and about how to carry out the standard guidelines of “covering the head, cuffing the hands and shackling the feet” throughout the entire process of transporting suspected security threats to interrogation. The other Xinjiang Aid police officers and I together handled more than 5000 cases, participated in the interrogation and trial transport of over 7500 inmates, travelled around 20 kilometers every day, and coordinated and labor projects*, escorting 3600 inmates. With each escort accounting for a distance of more than 4000 kilometers, the total distance that I travelled over 20 days of escort work was about 25000 kilometers. By demonstrating the revolutionary spirit and tireless work habit of police officers from the fabled revolutionary area of the Jinggang Mountains in Jiangxi province to bear hardship, struggle, maintain discipline and value dedication, I received unanimous high praise and acknowledgement from the leaders of the Ministry of Public Security Central Department for Prison Oversight, the entire prison overseer team in Xinjiang and the entire prison overseer team under the Jiangxi Public Security Bureau.

* Here, ‘labor project’ is a translation of 投劳, a prison labor scheme that involves the transportation of detainees to distant offsite locations. Another officer on a Xinjiang Aid rotation talks more about that highly securitized process in this post.

Below is from a separate post by the same WeChat account, evidently a different version of the same speech/account above. It also includes a paragraph about the detention center itself:

一、监所概括:援疆驻地新疆喀什地区巴楚县看守所于2015月12月19日建成投入使用,建筑面积19547.81平方米,占地面积60000平方米。设计押量1000人,(严打期间关押危安犯3695名左右)单独关押监室设计建设33间,禁闭室设计建设4间。设计建设5个监区(其中女性在押人员与单押监室合建1个监区女押员1000多名,单押监室1个监区,3个监区为普通监室),讯问室18间,律师会见室1间,家属会见室1间,管教谈话室6间,食堂2间、2栋办公楼。看守所工作人员配置:行政编制21名(其中5人外借),所长1名、教导员1名,副所长2名,职工和保安工作人民85名(因案件调查经常5-10被带走审查,造成岗位缺人)。7名汉族工作人员,维吾尔族工作人员为主。

I. Overview of prison: The Maralbeshi County Detention Center in Kashgar, Xinjiang, which is a Xinjiang Aid station, was completed and put into use on December 19, 2015. The center occupies 19547.81 square meters, with a total floor area of 60000 square meters. The designed capacity of the center is 1000 detainees (during the Strike Hard campaign, there were about 3695 security threats detained there), with 33 individual detention cells and 4 solitary confinement cells.* The center was designed and constructed with five prison zones (one zone being a combined female detainee and individual detention cell area housing more than 1000 female detainees, another zone holding individual detention cells, and the remaining three zones holding regular cells), 18 interrogation rooms, one lawyer consultation room, one family visitation room, six disciplinary discussion rooms, two canteens, and two office buildings. Employees stationed at the detention centre include: 21 administrative staff (which include five staff members loaned externally), one director, one instructor, two deputy directors, 85 workers and security guards (because of case investigations, 5-10 people are regularly brought away for investigation, causing a shortage in staff). Apart from seven Han employees, the majority of the staff are Uyghurs.

* Individual detention cells appear to be like standard cells where individuals are held because of possible concerns of e.g. safety or health, but are not used as punishment like solitary confinement.