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

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

Physically and culturally close to Western Europe, Lviv feels solidarity with compatriots in country’s east but says they need to decide own future More

West African Women Disproportionately Affected by Ebola

Women's roles in families and the community put them at greater risk for contracting the disease, officials say More

Video NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Arrives at Mars

Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution craft will measure rates at which gases escape Martian atmosphere into space 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.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid