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The fight against extremism and human rights protection in Xinjiang: Chinese experts share their views

The owner of a wooden handicraft shop (L) and a staff member play musical instruments in the ancient city of Kashgar, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, July 6, 2019. In the first half of 2019, the ancient city of Kashgar received over 310,000 tourists. (Xinhua/Zhao Ge)

"Extremist thoughts have caused a large number of innocent people to suffer," said Wuji'ahamaiti Tuerxun, president of the Xinjiang Uygur Medical College.

GENEVA, Sept. 17 (Xinhua) -- China has adopted a series of measures to combat extremism and safeguard people's rights in its Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region over the past decades and achieved notable results in socioeconomic development, experts said at a United Nations (UN) meeting held here.

The meeting, a side event of the 42nd session of the UN Human Rights Council, themed "the Fight Against Extremism and Human Rights Protection in Xinjiang", was held Monday by the China Society for Human Rights Studies (CSHRS) at the Palais des Nations.

Some 50 representatives, including goverment officials, personnel from international organizations and non-governmental organizations were present at the meeting.

Chairing the meeting, Wu Leifen, deputy secretary-general of the CSHRS, told the audience that Xinjiang was once deeply threatened by religious extremism, violent terrorism and ethnic separatist activities, especially the spread of religious extremism, leading to the violation of local people's basic human rights and various violent terrorist activities.

To tackle these problems, she said, Xinjiang has adopted a series of measures in recent years and achieved good results. The security situation there has been fundamentally improved, the number of terrorist attacks greatly reduced, and the basic human rights of the people effectively safeguarded.

Echoing her remarks, Gu Yingsu, a CSHRS council member, recalled how religious extremism had seriously affected the normal life of the local people and inflicted substantial harm to women and children.

She believed that in modern civilization, care for women and children is an important sign of social development.

Tourists and local residents dance to music during Corban Festival celebrations in Kashgar, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Aug. 11, 2019. (Xinhua/Wang Fei)

Wuji'ahamaiti Tuerxun, president of the Xinjiang Uygur Medical College, said that due to religious extremism, for a long time medical knowledge and skills were difficult to reach as many people as they should.

"Extremist thoughts have caused a large number of innocent people to suffer," he said, adding that in some places, believers of those extremist thoughts even declined to take any medical treatments, or even resorted to extreme behaviors which risk putting their lives in great danger.

In recent years, he said, the government has vigorously made a series of de-extremization efforts, such as providing vocational education and training for locals, achieving remarkable effects and winning heartfelt support from the people.

Mao Junxiang, executive director of the Center for Human Rights Studies at China's Central South University, said that in recent years, Xinjiang has carried out anti-terrorism and de-extremization campaigns involving both combats and prevention in accordance with the law.

The basic rights of people of all ethnicities have been secured, the normal social order has been restored, and an all-round development made possible, which has earned wide international acclaim, the expert said.

Chang Jian, director of the Center for Human Rights Studies at China's Nankai University, believed that to curb terrorism and violent extremism, it is necessary not only to crack down on violent acts, but also to eliminate the root causes and propagation pathways of violent extremism.

He said that a series of such measures taken by Xinjiang have successfully curbed the spread of violent extremism. Since December 2016, Xinjiang has seen no criminal terrorist attacks for 33 consecutive months. In 2018, the region registered more than 150 million visits, up over 40 percent year-on-year.

"China's active exploration and achievements in counter-terrorism and de-extremization have offered valuable practice and experience to the international community," he said.