News / Asia

Rights Groups Want Protection for 220 Uighurs Detained in Thailand

Ethnic Uighur Muslims line up beside a police van in Khlong Hoi Khong of southern Songkhla province, Thailand, Mar. 15, 2014.
Ethnic Uighur Muslims line up beside a police van in Khlong Hoi Khong of southern Songkhla province, Thailand, Mar. 15, 2014.
Ron Corben
In southern Thailand, more than 200 suspected ethnic Uighur Muslims are being held by Thai immigration authorities who say they will deport the men, women and children to China. But, rights groups are calling for humanitarian protection for the group.

Thai immigration police said the 78 men, 60 women and 82 children were believed to be ethnic Uighurs from China's western Xinijang region.  They were found hiding in a rubber plantation in Thailand's southern Songkla province.

The group has spoken with officials from the Turkish Embassy, which, along with the United Nations refugee agency, has been providing assistance.  They have refused to talk with Thai or Chinese Embassy officials.

Thai immigration officers said they would press charges against the group for illegal entry to Thailand and call for their deportation.

But U.S.-based Human Rights Watch is calling for the United Nations to assess the group's refugee status and ensure they are not forcibly returned to China.

Sunai Phasuk, a senior researcher with the rights group, said Thailand had an international obligation to ensure the safety of the Uighurs.

"Thailand has an obligation under international customary law not to return people to a place where they would face danger. So that is a very core principle according to international law. So even though Thailand is not a party to the UN refugee convention it still has an obligation under law not to send people back to face dangers," said Sunai.

The U.S. State Department also urged Thailand to provide protection to the group and ensure their humanitarian needs were met.

Thai police reports said the Uighurs left China's Xinijiang region by air to the southern Chinese city of Kunming, then went south through neighboring countries Burma or Laos, or possibly Vietnam and Cambodia before reaching Thailand. The next step was to Malaysia and a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Turkey.

Trafficking gangs, said to be operating out of Malaysia, charge as much as $40,000 for each person.

Rights groups warn of increasing numbers of ethnic Uighurs fleeing China amid rising tensions in Xinijiang.  Chinese authorities have tightened security there following attacks by suspected Uighurs on Tiananmen Square in Beijing and more recently at Kunming railway station that left 29 people dead and 140 wounded.

Human Rights Watch said Uighurs faced ethnic discrimination, religious repression and increasing cultural suppression by Chinese authorities who say they are fighting against separatism and terrorism.

In recent years, despite efforts by the U.N. High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to intervene, Cambodia forcibly returned 20 Uighurs to China in 2009, while Malaysia deported six men in late 2012.

You May Like

US Gives Malaysia Questionable Upgrade in Human Trafficking Ranks

Malaysia’s upgrade seen as removing barrier to country’s participation in the US-led 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership More

Turkey, US Try to Establish Buffer Despite Differences

Coalition airstrikes in proposed zone would aim to drive out Islamic extremists, allowing targeted area to come under sway of anti-Assad rebels More

Video US: Millions Exploited by Vast Fortunes of Human Trafficking

State Department's annual report calls exploitation 'modern slavery,' brutalizing girls, women into prostitution and forcing men, women and children into low-wage jobs across the globe More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: SEATO
March 15, 2014 6:09 PM
Thailand,under no circumstances,should deport these poor Uighur refugees back to China,where they would be subjected to barbaric punishment and torture. Israel has always welcome all persecuted Jewish from all over the world. Turkey should do the same and provide refuge to all Uighurs since they are of Turkish origin and are the descendants of the Ottoman empire,and Turkey should openly condemn China's systematic ethnic cleansing and forced-assimilation in Xinjang

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Wini
X
July 28, 2015 12:21 AM
The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Obama Encourages Kenya to Fix Cultures of Corruption, Discrimination

President Barack Obama bid farewell to Kenya Sunday with a major speech at as stadium outside the capital Nairobi where he called on Kenyans to change the cultures of corruption and discrimination that can hold society back. VOA East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video California Towns Welcome Special Olympics Athletes

Cities and towns in Southern California are greeting thousands of athletes who are arriving for Special Olympics, a competition for people with intellectual disabilities. The games will run from July 25th through August 2nd. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, where athletes from Namibia, Singapore and Tanzania got a rousing welcome from local residents.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.
Video

Video Hoverbike Flying Toward Reality

Another long-standing dream of many technological inventors is quickly approaching reality: U.S.- and British-based firms are cooperating in the development of an individual flying platform they call a hoverbike. They say it may revolutionize the concept of flying, including in the U.S. military. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video As Japan Expands Defense Role, Protests Follow

The Japanese government is moving forward with a controversial security bill that would authorize the military to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Leaders say it is critical to defend against rising threats from China and North Korea. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Japan on the big changes ahead, and the opposition they are drawing.
Video

Video Replacing Poppies with Coffee in Myanmar

The remote mountains of Myanmar’s Shan state are home to the second-largest opium-producing region in the world. After a drop during the 2000s, production surged in the past eight years to feed an increasing demand for heroin in China. But farmers are now making less on the crop, and the U.N. is hoping many will make the switch to growing coffee. Daniel de Carteret reports for VOA from Taunggyi.

VOA Blogs