How terrorism is handled in different places

Jan 14, 2024
Black balaclava or bandit mask.Image: iStock/ Olga Nikoryan

Terrorism is a global problem, we could talk all day and night about whether a terrorist is a freedom fighter, an oppressed person struggling for recognition or a cold-blooded murderer but whatever the reasons, everyone must agree; innocent people deserve protection from terrorists.

China had a terrorism problem and acted – in doing so, they were criticised by the Western world but by their actions, taken over a period of time have proven to be correct. Xinjiang, and other parts of China witnessed attacks on police, attacks on infrastructure and worst of all, attacks on innocent civilians.

As CGTN point out in their brilliantly produced series of videos about the era and the measures needing to be taken, “the violence increased, so did the security measures”. The Deputy Director of Xinjiang’s Public Security Department, Yalqun Yaqup, himself a Uyghur explains in the video, Tianshan: still standing, the measures are “severe, but legal”. The measures include very strong counter-terrorism, intensive police training, combined with border security, de-radicalisation, Chinese language education, vocational training and poverty alleviation all these lead to a process of constant improvement. Now, 10 years after the worst of the extremism in China, people can feel safe in the knowledge that everywhere, including Xinjiang, they can live their lives without incident.

The western world needs to understand this process, the CGTN series will help and I’d urge anyone with an interested to watch the entire series of 4 videos, all less than an hour each but all showing China’s problems, and responses to the problems. 

Every country can learn from China’s actions and, if they do, then the kind of situation which just occurred in Australia would not have occurred. 

After 11 years in prison, Abdul Nacer Benbrika, who was scheduled for release in November 2020, is finally out. He had been sentenced to 15 years behind bars in 2008 for leading and being a member of a terrorist group.

When his release on parole was imminent, the government of the day applied to the courts for a continuation of his sentence because they deemed, he was still a grave risk to the community and this exposes a series of problems for Australia. While in the mandatory parole period, they could do this but now, that period is over.

He has now served the full 15 years and they can’t legally keep him in prison any longer so he’s been released with a series of conditions including a curfew which indicates that he is allowed to leave the home but must return by a specific time, he must wear an electronic tag and answer the door when a police officer calls, which presumably can only be during the hours of his curfew, otherwise it would be an unreasonable restriction, and he must undertake psychological counselling and de-radicalisation. Remember, that’s the word that the world criticised China for; de-radicalisation. 

De-radicalisation is something which, in anyone’s mind, must be better than invading, bombing and killing, things the West, unfortunately, including Australia, seems to think will work. It doesn’t, it never has, if it did, we would be living in a peaceful world by now since George Bush’s ill-timed and erroneous “Mission Accomplished” speech more than 20 years ago. it only creates martyrs, which create more enemies later.

But this raises questions of what happened during his period of imprisonment, was there no re-education or de-radicalisation during the 15 years he was locked up? Apparently not, or if there was, it was deemed not sufficient. There are also reports that, during his prison term, he, and his co-defendants, were active in further promoting ISIS and other Jihadist movements. This seems counter-intuitive, if media groups can find out people are doing this in the Australian prison system, it makes a mockery of the claim that prison is for rehabilitation and confirms the maxim that prisons breed better criminals

Another question raised is, why sentence a man to 15 years if, at the end of that time, the government is going to complain that the sentence is inadequate. Why did the courts believe 15 years was adequate when the government think differently. Obviously, people will talk of the separation of power here, but if that were a meaningful argument, then the government shouldn’t interfere with the release of someone the courts deem suitable for release – we can’t have it both ways, either the courts are right, or the government is right, or perhaps they are both wrong.

What’s really the cause for Australia’s concern though is Benbrika’s very unusual and unorthodox path to citizenship of Australia. According to Wikipedia, He arrived in Australia in 1989 on a one-month visa, applied for extensions but was declared a “prohibited non-citizen in 1990. He married in 1992, to an Australian citizen and now has 6 children, he was finally granted citizenship in 1998.

But then it gets really interesting, because while he was in prison, the government of the day, in fact the current leader of the opposition, Peter Dutton, cancelled his citizenship. Without citizenship, it would have been possible to release and immediately deport him but that hasn’t happened because just a few weeks ago, the courts reinstated his citizenship. Apparently, this kind of decision is not for the government to make so now the parliament is rushing though new laws to allow this.

Terrorism is a plague, it is a scourge on modern society but it is the result of a variety of factors, poverty is only one, hatred is another, religious intolerance is one, poor education is another, deprivations and inequality are more. The reasons are endless but the most interesting thing is: every single one of the causes, has a cure. China may not have handled theirs perfectly but handle it they did and the results, a peaceful and prosperous country, speak volumes for their success. Perhaps Australia’s government can take a look and learn from them.

A link to the page where all four CGTN articles can be found in one place is here.

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