News / Asia

Suspected Uighur Asylum Seekers Staying Mum in Thai Detention

Suspected Uighur Asylum Seekers Staying Mum in Thai Detentioni
X
March 21, 2014 11:59 AM
In southern Thailand, some 200 unidentified Muslim migrants seeking resettlement in Turkey are being held by Thai authorities. Steve Sandford reports from Hat Yai, Thailand, where authorities are trying to piece together who the people are and where they should be sent.
In southern Thailand, some 200 unidentified Muslim migrants seeking resettlement in Turkey are being held by Thai authorities.   Many suspect they are Uighurs from China, and rights groups are pressing Thai authorities not to send them back. Authorities are trying to piece together who the people are and where they should be sent.
 
Unlike the thousands of Muslim Rohingya boat people fleeing persecution in Burma, this group has apparently paid traffickers to smuggle them overland.
 
Rights groups suspect they are Uighurs fleeing China’s western Xinjiang region, where the ethnic minority has long complained of discrimination and religious oppression from Chinese authorities.
 
But the group is not eager to talk, according to Ismail Mat-Adam, head of the National Islamic Association of Thailand, who has been able to communicate with some of them using Arabic dialects.
 
“We communicated to them through a translator and they want to go to Turkey. They won’t give us more information.  We are concerned that they are withholding information from us. That’s why they are not comfortable to talk to us,” said Mat-Adam.
 
Security is tight around the shelter where 150 women and children are being held separate from the men.

As translators and aid workers try to sort the matter out, officials from China and Turkey have visited to assist Thai immigration authorities.
 
For Turkey’s first councilor to Thailand, Ahmet Idem Akay, the focus is more on ensuring proper care than identifying who they are.

“This is a humanitarian situation. There are more than 200 people here. More than half of them are children below the age of 18. There are quite a number of babies. There are pregnant women,” he said. 
 
Meanwhile, China’s ambassador and a security team paid a quick visit to the detention center holding the men.
 
Rights groups fear that if the group is identified as Uighurs, they could face retribution if sent back to China. Chinese Ambassador to Thailand, Zhang Yimin said his visit is an act of goodwill. 

“We don't want any countries to interfere with our business. We can control it. The other countries only try to press this issue so it can be used for political reasons,” he stated.
 
In the meantime, the detainees face an unknown future, joining increasing numbers of Rohingyas and other asylum seekers who are living in limbo in Thailand.

You May Like

Gun Nation

This is who America's gun owners are More

US Border Patrol Union Accused of Taking Sides on Immigration

Report alleges agents leaking info to immigration opponents, appearing at their private events; Center for Immigration Studies director defends agents' actions More

Video Rights Monitor: Hate Groups' Use of Internet to Inflame, Recruit Growing

Wiesenthal Center's Abraham Cooper says extremists have become skilled at celebrating violence, ideology on Web More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs