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 is 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
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."
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.