After months held in Thai immigration detention centers, over 100 Uighurs have been deported to China, despite protests from the United Nations and the Uighurs themselves, who fear punishment in China.
“Thailand and Turkey are not rivals and we do not want to destroy trade and commerce with Turkey,” said Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha in Bangkok Friday. “At the same time, we do not want to destroy the relationship between China and Thailand.”
Without public notice, last month the Thai government sent 172 Uighurs to Turkey from the holding camps where they had been provided for in Thailand.
This week they sent 109 Uighurs to China, reporting this deportation July 9.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) commented on the move, saying it was “shocked by this deportation of some 100 people and consider it a flagrant violation of international law.”
Many of the deported Uighurs have been accused of terrorism by Chinese officials. China’s Foreign Ministry said those Uighurs suspected of “committing serious crimes” would be brought to justice, while others would be dealt with in “proper ways.”
Thai authorities have come under fire for washing their hands of the matter.
“If we send them back and there is a problem, it is not our fault,” said Prayuth Thursday.
Protests have erupted in Thailand and Turkey, including vandalism against the Thai consulate in Istanbul.
Over 60 Uighurs remain in Thai custody awaiting deportation. The Thai government is processing their paperwork to be sure of their citizenship status before moving them.
By James Haleavy