Twelve men accused of ESS are publicly sentenced in Yili (Ili) Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture, Xinjiang, September 18, 2008. Photo credit: iyaxin.com
In 2008 the Xinjiang Rule of Law Leading Small Group published a policy document examining a number of challenges faced by prison authorities in managing the region’s endangering state security (ESS) prisoners. The first two sections of the document, which discuss the situation facing Xinjiang prison work and the psychological profiles of ESS prisoners, are translated here. What follows is a translation of the last two sections of the document. These sections describe attitudes towards reform among ESS prisoners and methods for prisons to improve their reform work. The document emphasizes the “clear hostility” of ESS prisoners, noting that it is “extremely common” for them to resist reform.
The document observes that by concentrating ESS offenders, prisons become fertile grounds for reactionary groups to recruit members and may ultimately become targets for attack. The language used in this paper conveys the sense that prison authorities are engaged in battle with enemy forces on China’s frontier and that, in the interest of “stability above all else,” military-level investments in personnel, equipment, and facilities are necessary.
Prisons are instructed to “strategically despise all enemies but tactically take [them] seriously” and to “divide and demoralize.” In some cases, the document specifically calls for solitary confinement, fixed sleeping positions, and prohibitions on sitting.
Among the groups identified in the document as a proponent of the “three forces” of ethnic separatism, Islamic extremism, and terrorism is the East Turkestan Islamic Party (ETIP). Chinese officials have ascribed a number of bombings and hijackings to the group, which was labeled a terrorist organization by the US government in 2002. As recently as May 2015, Mettursun Eziz was sentenced to four years’ in prison for circulating religious materials produced by ETIP.
On the Current Situation and Countermeasures for Reform of
ESS Prisoners under the New Circumstances [Excerpt]
August 4, 2008
[The first two sections of this document are translated here.]
III. Reform Situation
- Basic Situation
The number of endangering state security (ESS) offenders in Xinjiang prisons has risen annually since 2000. Prior to being arrested, these ESS offenders mainly resided in four regions: Kashgar, Hotan, and Aksu in southern Xinjiang and the Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture. People between the ages of 18 and 40 account for a relatively large number of these ESS prisoners, revealing that young men are always the main targets for recruiting and training by ethnic separatists. An increasing number of these prisoners are serving long sentences, and fewer serving short terms. From this, we can see two things. On the one hand, the intensity of our strikes against ESS offenders has been increasing, and the battle against them intensifies every day. On the other hand, [the phenomenon of] ESS crime is becoming increasingly acute, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to reform ESS prisoners. The process of educating and converting ESS prisoners is complicated, and the responsibility is formidable. Moreover, as the number of ESS offenders who have completed their sentences and been released from prison increases, the work of post-release monitoring and “rehabilitation” becomes even more difficult.
- Current Reform Situation
At present, one can say that the reform of ESS prisoners is mostly in a stage of equilibrium. But because these prisoners are influenced by a special mentality, social background, and religious ideology, one can identify two or even more extremes in the overall development trend for the reform of ESS prisoners. This mainly manifests itself in the following five forms.
- Those who increase their understanding and gradually convert. This type accounts for 2.39 percent of ESS prisoners. Most are relatively young, have had relatively little religious influence, have a relatively high level of education, and were accomplices in their crimes. After a certain period of education and reform, they are able not only to acclimate to the reform environment but to more easily accept new knowledge and ideas. These are the easiest ESS prisoners to reform.
- Those who sit back and observe, hesitating to move forward. This type accounts for 19.22 percent of ESS prisoners. Most of them lack fully developed thinking, are somewhat less affected by narrow ethnic or religious views, and lack willpower and judgment. Although they recognize that maintaining ethnic separatist views does not have positive results, they do not recognize that prisons are resolute in striking against ethnic separatists. They are unable to grasp the opportunity to reform. They hesitate, watch those around them, leave things to chance, and go with the flow. In the course of education and reform, it is only necessary to appeal to emotion or reason to make them recognize that ethnic separatism has no future and is a dead-end; then they are easy to convert.
- Those who follow the crowd and parrot what others say. This group accounts for 36.43 percent of ESS prisoners. Most of them are not set in their thinking and have rather large mood swings. They have incorrect views about ethnicity and religion, have a difficult time properly distinguishing fact from fiction, and have a low level of education. In the process of reform, they run hot and cold, do not have thoughts of their own, vary in their zeal for reform, and are easily influenced by ESS prisoners around them and by other relevant matters.
- Those who pretend to follow one path but secretly pursue another. This type accounts for 30.53 percent of ESS prisoners but has quite serious negative side effects. Typically, this kind of person was a principal, leading, or core member of a criminal gang and possesses more systematic reactionary thinking and stronger organizational powers and influence. During the process of reform, they appear to have a positive attitude and submit to management, are eloquent, and exhibit a relatively good attitude towards acknowledging guilt. But deep down they continue to possess extremely strong anti-social and separatist thinking, and they maintain an attitude of stubborn resistance throughout the process of reform. In prison management work, it takes extra effort to control and educate this type of person.
- Those with stubborn thinking and a greater potential for risk. There are relatively few of this type, about 11.52 percent of [ESS prisoners], but their ethnic separatist and extreme religious ideologies are deep-rooted. After entering prison they typically maintain an attitude of refusal to stop until their goals are achieved, causing their criminal motivations to grow stronger. On the one hand, they seek ways to make contact with ethnic separatist forces remaining outside prison. On the other hand, they wait for opportunities to link up within the prison, continue to propagate their ethnic separatist speech and ideas, and carry out illegal religious activity in vain hope that, once the time is right, they can carry out violence or organize an escape, prison riot, or prison break and kill prison guards and civilians. If they were ever able to carry out their plans successfully, the consequences would be too terrible to imagine.
- Clear Hostility
In recent years, it has become extremely common for ESS prisoners to resist reform, engage in sabotage, and plot disturbances and riots. This can mainly be seen from the following new tendencies and characteristics.
- Members who are secretly recruited and trained conspire over a long period of time, carry out more covert and odious actions, and cause more serious harm as they intensify their plots to carry out organized and planned disruptions and riots in prison. For example, on March 15, 2005, a certain prison uncovered a major case of conspiracy involving four ESS prisoners who had recruited a total of 34 ESS and ordinary prisoners, since June 2004, to form an “East Turkestan Islamic Party.” The group secretly plotted to make contacts inside and outside the prison and to carry out mass disturbances and riots. There are several characteristics of this case. First, the goal was absolutely clear—to establish an organization with ties inside and outside the prison, carry out a prison break, and ultimately establish an “East Turkestan Republic.” Second, after secret plotting on numerous occasions, they drew up an extremely complete plan for a prison break. Third is the well-established manner in which members of the organization communicated, divided up labor, and exerted control over one other. Fourth is the broad scope whereby targets were recruited. The large number of people involved in the case, length of time of the conspiracy, size of the organization, and thoroughness of the planning are all something rarely seen in the past decade. Were the plan to have succeeded, the consequences would be unimaginable.
- Former “Hizb ut-Tahrir” members continue to propagate their reactionary ideas in prison and have intensified their conspiratorial activities to establish reactionary groups, recruit members, plot disturbances and prison breaks, and ultimately establish a “caliphate” government. After entering prison, former Hizb ut-Tahrir members commonly do not acknowledge guilt or accept the verdict against them. They stubbornly maintain their reactionary views and seek opportunities to provoke incidents. On May 7, 2005, Changji Prison uncovered a case of members of the reactionary group circulating written information about Hizb ut-Tahrir. They secretly recruited members in a planned, orderly, and purposeful manner in an attempt to accomplish something bigger, like a prison riot or prison break. The chief culprit, [name redacted], recruited 22 members and organized three group networks. Afterwards, eight other similar cases were uncovered in succession, fully reflecting the intensity and complexity of the battle against Hizb ut-Tahrir.
- Former violent terrorists, with a deep resentment of our government and prison correctional officers, attempt to use violent terrorist means to kill us. They resist reform activities in increasingly arrogant and brazen means like gathering together to create disturbances and seizing opportunities to concoct incidents. On May 29, 2005, immediately after an ESS prisoner was put in solitary confinement for violating discipline in a certain prison, 27 ESS prisoners collectively went on strike and created a disturbance in the prison. They made unreasonable demands about removing that ESS prisoner from solitary confinement and changing the prisoner monitors. After a probing and detailed investigation, the prison uncovered a core of four ESS prisoners as well as 34 people who were either involved in the case or participated in activities of the “East Turkestan Islamic Liberation Organization.” In August of the same year, investigation also uncovered a case of major conspiracy led by four ESS prisoners and involving 11 criminals. On November 14, 2004, these prisoners made an oath to form a “bayat” [i.e., “oath of allegiance”] organization, secretly recruited members, and attempted to collaborate with forces outside the prison to murder police guards and collectively break out.
With respect to the main prisoners involved in the aforementioned cases, the Xinjiang Prison Bureau requested sentence extensions in accordance with the law in December of last year. Nonetheless there remain some prisoners who continue to have an attitude of refusing to acknowledge guilt and to display extreme resentment. Some engage in self-mutilation, slash their wrists, bite off their tongues, or try to kill themselves by smashing into walls; some threaten police guards, openly saying “if you sentence me, I won’t live”; some use the excuse of illness and make unreasonable demands in an attempt to escape legal sanctions.
- Intense infiltration of “three forces” [elements] into prisons presents new and more serious challenges to our anti-infiltration and anti-prison-break work. This mainly manifests itself in the following. Separatists outside the prison intentionally commit crimes to “break in” to the prison, gather intelligence, and recruit members. There is increased use of video cameras, cameras, and binoculars outside the prison walls by people of unclear backgrounds who photograph and view the situation inside the prison walls. There is continual intensification in the use of the mail to send money and items [into the prison], carry out reactionary propaganda infiltration on incarcerated ESS prisoners, and use secret codes in an attempt to establish contacts with those outside the prison. There are those who make secret connections inside and outside and await “rescue” by separatist groups outside the prison. On several occasions, prisons that hold ESS prisoners have discovered that ESS prisoners’ relatives have sent reactionary letters encouraging prisoners to maintain their reactionary standpoints and separatist ideas and await “rescue.”
IV. Methods for Improving Education and Reform of ESS Prisoners
In light of the new circumstances and problems surrounding the reform of ESS prisoners, Xinjiang prison work must always firmly plant the idea of “stability above all else.” We must closely ensure unwavering focus on prison security and stability by continually improving the party’s leadership over prison work and building and perfecting enduring mechanisms for prison security and stability. We must always maintain the focus of prison work on severe combat against the sabotage activity of “three forces” inside the prison and on reforming ESS prisoners. This should be emphasized as important over the long term. Special effort should be made to strengthen the management of ESS prisoners and raise the quality of reform.
- Continue to increase intra-prison investigation, taking account of hostility and criminality.
- Continually improve the investigation and study of prison and enemy intelligence. Dedicate intensive research to ESS prisoners’ criminal psychology, patterns of reform, and specific countermeasures. Explore and summarize past experience and methods to guide future practice, and enhance professional strengths.
- Organize a tightly controlled, rationally arranged, and high-quality network of informants. Strictly implement a reward-and-punishment system for informants, and use formal, administrative, and material means to motivate them. In particular, establish a system to pay informants and use other practical measures to encourage them.
- Gradually shift the focus of prison investigation work to combatting serious behaviors aimed at resisting reform. With respect to some serious reform-resistance behavior that does not constitute new criminal activity according to the current legal framework, we need to employ strategies, collect evidence, solidify evidence, and actively communicate with the relevant authorities in order to use legal methods to carry out a reasonable, effective, firm, and severe crackdown in practice.
- Maintain good experiences and practices, such as making prevention the focus, treating small things as if they were major, and “fixing the barn door before the horse is lost.” Aim to uncover major cases during the conspiracy stage and eliminate all kinds of new criminal activity at their inception. In addition to standardizing daily work routines, we need to increase funding, improve investigative equipment and facilities within the prison, pay attention to employing modern detection technology, and improve the overall efficacy of investigation within the prison.
- Exemplify targeted management of ESS prisoners, taking account of ESS prisoners’ characteristics.
- Implement and refine categorized management. Use scientific methods of classifying ESS prisoners according to the different natures of their crimes and their different social backgrounds, psychological profiles, ideological bases, and behavioral displays. Remain firm in carrying out separate detention of leaders, core members, and dangerous elements.
- In the course of daily management, uphold the “four stricts” of strict management, strict education, strict crackdown, and strict prevention. Intensify the punishment and crackdown against those who dare to reveal themselves, making them truly feel the severity of the law and the force of dictatorship. For the main suspects in a case, employ separate or isolated detention; carry out 24-hour monitoring by prisoner monitors and daily, unscheduled patrols by correctional officers from the functional office; and have on-duty correctional officers carry out daily body searches and inspections of beds and cells. For dangerous individuals connected to a case, carry out detention using restraints in accordance with the law. Implement a system of fixed positions for sleep and prevention of sitting and movement for those involved in a case. Strictly implement a specific accountability system and arrange for correctional officers with a strong sense of responsibility and professional character to take responsibility for management and education.
- Enhance the management of ESS prisoners’ labor. Adjust the projects and times for ESS prisoners’ labor. If anything is inappropriate as labor to be carried out by ESS prisoners, it must be resolutely canceled.
- Make further use of the ability of education and reform to address the root of the problem and increase the quality of ESS prisoners’ reform
- Periodically hold special meetings regarding education work. Analyze and study the new circumstances and problems that arise in the course of education and reform work for ESS prisoners and enact targeted measures and methods to raise the relevance of this work.
- Speed up the compilation and improvement of targeted teaching materials. Mainly include content on: Marxist worldview, philosophy, and values; national, ethnic, religious, historical, and cultural views; and Xinjiang’s history and development, current events, and politics.
- In light of the realities of ESS prisoners’ mentalities, place the focus on increasing political thought education that is targeted, flexible, and varied. Avoid boring study methods like reading the newspaper or textbooks, and fully take advantage of myriad educational methods such as lectures, one-on-one education, using cases to study the law, analyzing classic cases, and speaking of the law from personal experience.
- Further intensify one-on-one education. Under the current conditions of correctional officer scarcity, focus on one-on-one education for target prisoner groups like ESS prisoners and stubborn ESS prisoners. Actively take advantage of the function of one-on-one education to attack the mind of ESS prisoners. Establish three levels of one-on-one education [to be carried out by] prison leadership, the functional office, and unit guards as a network for guaranteeing education and reform.
- Properly carry out assault and conversion work targeting “stubborn ESS prisoners.” Extend the experience of selected pilot efforts to the whole, putting the stress on effectiveness. Promote experiences of educating and converting ESS prisoners, and, when targeting stubborn elements, employ strategies of “strategically despise all enemies but tactically take our enemies seriously” and “gather the majority, isolate the minority, treat them differently, divide and demoralize.” Launch an education campaign to attack and convert 100 stubborn ESS prisoners. Increase the conversion rate by employing effective measures that concentrate advantages of police force and energies like concentrated classes, responsibility contracts, close supervision, and conversion deadlines. Go on the offensive to educate “stubborn ESS prisoners” on policies, laws, the general situation, and morality in order to target their reactionary thinking and ideas.
- Wield the Might of Policy and Uphold the “Four Combines”
While educating and reforming ESS prisoners, respect the fundamental principles of individualized education, categorization, and management and persuasion through reasoning. Properly grasp the four areas of indoctrination, guidance, penetration, and criticism and uphold the “four combines,” namely, combine strengthened indoctrination and self-education, combine ideological education and psychological treatment, combine collective attacks with individualized education, and combine the attack-and-convert strategy with consolidating results. Fully wield the power of the party’s ethnic and religious policies and national laws and strengthen the ideological education of ESS prisoners.
- Proceed from a practical basis, strengthen “three courses” education, and fully promote basic education. In the content of “three courses” education, target the special criminal thinking of ESS prisoners and place emphasis on patriotism, ethnic and religious policies, and political ideological education regarding the general situation, legal system, and morality. Educate using useful passages from the Islamic Quran that can correct criminal thinking, for example content regarding doing good deeds and prohibitions on evil as well as on love, honesty, equality, and forgiveness. Focus on ESS prisoners who do not understand Chinese or are illiterate by carrying out cultural education to eradicate illiteracy and study Chinese. Encourage ESS prisoners with relatively good behavior to participate in adult university self-study examinations and strengthen technological and technical education and training, especially in practical technologies.
- Use scientific techniques and fully make use of the functions of psychological therapy in reforming criminals, making education and reform deeper and more detailed. Utilize the scientific methods of psychological therapy, set up archives, and provide scientific bases for establishing a targeted educational program. Fully understand all aspects of ESS prisoners’ psychological profiles as they relate to social behavior, including personalities, temperament, interests, emotions, attitudes, beliefs, value systems, and interpersonal relations, and establish a psychological file for each ESS prisoner. Design questionnaires based on the content and methods of the prison’s “three courses” and its management and education needs, carry out deep investigation and screening classification of ESS prisoners, and analyze and research ESS prisoners’ mental characteristics in order to serve as a holistic basis for accurately grasping their basic situation.
- Maintain close cooperation with all sides and open up new roads to education and reform. Establish a global view; strengthen coordinated combat operations and broaden channels by combining forces within the prison’s departments of education, prison administration, prison investigation, and production labor; and continually seek new methods, roads, and channels for education and reform, taking greater and greater steps towards a systematized, standardized, scientific, and modern system of education and reform.
- Take Resolute Steps to Enhance the Quality of Correctional Officers
- Strengthen education on political views and beliefs in order to enable guards of all ethnicities to come of their own accord to stand on the front lines of the battle against separatism. When it comes to questions of major principles involving national interests and the interests of individual ethnic groups, always achieve unequivocal understanding, unambiguous attitudes, and unwavering action.
- Strengthen education regarding the Marxist view on ethnic groups and the party’s ethnic and religious policies, deepen anti-separatist ideological education and education regarding Xinjiang history.
- Conduct planned training on religious knowledge for correctional officers who educate and reform ESS prisoners. Hold training classes and organize patriotic religious figures to lecture guards at the prison in order to help them understand necessary religious knowledge. Require that correctional officers pay attention to accumulating basic knowledge about Islam, ethnic customs, psychology, and history in the course of their daily work, study, and lives.
- Continue to carry out “bilingual” study activities for all correctional officers, with ethnic minorities learning Chinese and Han studying ethnic minority languages. Work hard to cultivate a corps of specialized teachers and education experts skilled at implementing ethnic and religious policies and laws, and establish a special correctional officer training corps for managing and educating ESS prisoners.
- Further Enhance Construction of Technologies for Prison Security and Prevention
- All high-security prisons housing ESS prisoners should install high-functioning prison security and prevention technology systems, including multimedia monitoring, intercom calling, emergency alarms, interview listening, perimeter-intrusion detection, smart grid, and access control functions.
- Recommend distributing a certain amount of non-ESS prisoners who nevertheless possess ethnic separatist tendencies in prisons throughout Xinjiang. To this end, all medium-security prison farms should have at least one target section that employs the best security and prevention technology according to high-security prison standards.
- Given the special regional circumstances of Xinjiang, ordinary prisons should also install necessary monitoring systems.
- Set up a local area computer network to cover the entire prison system, achieving remote monitoring of targeted prisons. The local monitoring control center may, as needed, carry out appropriate monitoring of targeted sections of targeted prisons and carry out remote command during emergency incidents in order to strengthen the ability to handle emergency incidents.
- Gradually set up an electronic education system to reduce the opportunities for prisoners to use the large-scale gatherings that occur during class time to make contact with one another.
- Set up prison administration information management systems in select prisons.
In summary, we must always clearly recognize the long-term, complex, and difficult nature of reforming ESS prisoners. While we implement each type of effective management measure, we must remain unwavering in remaining centered on the task of improving the quality of education and reform and having this central task lead our other work. Through continually strengthening education and reform measures, improving the quality of education and conversion, and truly grasping the laws of criminal reform, we are able to transform from passive defense to active attack. Only in this way can we fundamentally safeguard the security and stability of our prisons.
- 密谋时间长、行动更加隐蔽、性质更加恶劣、危害更加严重的秘密发展和培养成员，妄图进行有组织、有计划的闹监、暴狱的预谋活动加剧。例2005年3月15日，某监狱破获了一起以四名危安犯为首，自2004年6月以来拉拢发展了共计34名危安犯和刑事犯成立“东突厥斯坦伊斯兰党”，密谋策划、内外勾结、集体闹监暴狱的重大预谋案件。这起案件的特点：一是目的十分明确，就是要成立组织、内外勾结实施暴狱，最终成立“东突厥斯坦伊斯兰共和国”。二是通过多次密谋，制定了十分周末的暴狱计划。三是组织成员之间的联系、分工以及控制组织成员的手段十分严密。四是发展拉拢组织成员对象范围十分广泛。 这起案件涉案人数之众、密谋时间之长、组织规模之大、预谋计划之周密、都堪称近十年来所罕见，一旦得逞，其后果不堪设想。