Shanghai Cooperation Organization calls for nations to find common ground
Countries need to enhance international cooperation in fighting extremism, which is a global problem that no country is immune from, according to counterterrorism experts.
Also, sharing practical experiences about preventing young people from becoming extremists and later carrying out terrorist attacks is more important than ever, the experts said.
“Member countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization have agreed that we need to attach great importance to measures to curb the spread of extremism online that particularly targets young people between 18 and 30,” Nurlan Akkoshkarov, deputy secretary-general of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Secretariat, said during an international symposium on counter-extremism.
More than 60 officials, diplomats and experts participated in the symposium held by the China Association of Friendship in Beijing on Friday.
The SCO has eight member states, including China, Russia, Kazakhstan, India and Pakistan, and many members have suffered from extremism, terrorism and separatism that have led to many violent attacks. That is why more than 60 percent of the SCO’s 600 cooperation mechanisms pertain to jointly combating extremism, terrorism and separatism, Akkoshkarov said.
Extremism is the theoretical support of terrorism, while terrorism is often the result of extremism, so extremists and terrorists share a common ideology and their networks are codependent. said Liu Jie, deputy director of the executive committee of the SCO’s regional anti-terrorist structure, adding that they have become the common enemy of mankind.
Since some terrorist groups in Syria and Afghanistan that carried out frequent armed attacks were hit hard by counterterrorism forces in recent years, they have shifted their focus to using extremist forces to recruit members, especially via the internet, and setting up new bases worldwide, Liu said.
SCO member countries jointly foiled more than 360 terrorist and extremist schemes last year and arrested 695 suspects, Liu said, adding that more than 160,000 posts and 3,000 social media accounts containing terrorist and extremist content had also been blocked under the SCO framework.
“Different countries need to seek common ground while setting aside differences to fight extremism and terrorism and establish a worldwide prevention and cooperation mechanism,” he added.
Javid Ahmad Qaem, Afghanistan’s ambassador to China, said Afghan forces have been fighting the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, which is a terrorist organization that poses a major threat to China as it seeks independence for the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.
“Although the presence of ETIM in the country is weak and only exists in border areas with China, it is still our target during counterterrorism missions,” Qaem said. He added that many Afghan soldiers had lost their lives in the fight against the movement, but such missions would continue because “we must defeat all terrorist forces”.
Qaem said Afghanistan had attached great importance to preventing young people from becoming extremists by improving its education system and enhancing internet control.
Different countries have adopted different measures to combat extremism and terrorism, and China’s experiences are very valuable, said Kairat Osmonaliev, a professor at Kyrgyz National University.
In Kyrgyzstan, for example, extremists’ confessions are used to educate others about the harm of following extremism. In Uzbekistan, people can learn what religion is all about from television programs sanctioned by the government, Osmonaliev said.
Xinjiang, which borders Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan, has been China’s main battleground against extremism and terrorism. No terrorist incident has happened in the region for three years since a series of countermeasures were introduced, including the establishment of vocational education and training centers.